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“This, that” or “This and that”?

Give me an and, the grammar cheerleader in me wants to shout.


You’d think people had an allergy to and. These days, this conjunction is used too sparingly in compound sentences, where it is required to join nouns or adjectives if the sentence is not to seem – well, disjointed.

 “And” then what?

Stinginess with and results in sentences such as this one in an advertorial for a hair-loss therapy: “PRP is safe, convenient, and has no downtime associated with it.” Sure, and appears as a conjunction joining the two sentences, but you’d never know the sentence was compound – in other words, made up of more than one sentence. That’s because the first sentence seems incomplete: “PRP is safe, convenient.” A word is missing, its rightful place usurped by a comma. The word is – you guessed it – and. The sentence should read, “PRP is safe and convenient.” The subject in that sentence is PRP and the verb is is. Then comes the second sentence: “(PRP) has no downtime associated with it.” The subject, PRP, is understood, and the verb is has. Two sentences, each with its own subject and verb.



A lengthy advertorial for a brain supplement declared: “Over the years, the sophisticated three-part formulation has gained the trust of medical doctors, a top clinical pharmacist, and is even a recommended component in an updated, in-home version of a legendary Medicare-reimbursed brain health protocol.” Same situation as with the hair-loss treatment, except the ad for this brain-loss treatment needs and between nouns instead of between adjectives. The first part of this compound sentence is: “Over the years, the sophisticated three-part formulation has gained the trust of medical doctors, a top clinical pharmacist.” It should read, “… medical doctors and a top clinical pharmacist.” The subject is formulation, and the verb is has gained. Doctors and pharmacists are fairly simpatico, so there’s no reason to separate them with a comma and every reason to join them with the conjunction and – and the same would hold true even if they were at odds with each other.In the second part of the compound sentence, the subject again is formulation, and the verb is is. Incidentally, the ad never named the memory-enhancing product. Maybe the writer forgot.

“And” newspaper reporters, too.

Newspaper reporters frequently commit the same error. This is from a story in my local paper about allegedly excessive force used by police against a 14-year-old: “Jean-Baptiste’s mother claimed her son, who wasn’t charged in the incident, had a lump on his head, bruises and was extremely dizzy after the incident.” This almost sounds like broken English. He “had a lump on his head, bruises” comes off as a foreigner struggling with the language. Two things were visible: a lump and bruises. A comma between lump and bruises, instead of the word and, implies that something else in the way of physical damage is forthcoming – cuts, maybe. But, because a lump and bruises were the only injuries the boy incurred, they should be – uh, lumped together: “a lump on his head and bruises.” Otherwise, the reader assumes the writer hasn’t finished telling what physical evidence of police force there was. Yes, the boy was dizzy, but that’s a separate sentence within the compound sentence that has two verbs, had and was.

And that’s the way it is – or was – August 17, 2014.

(What do you mean, you don’t get it, young ’uns? That was Walter Cronkite, signing off.)

#compoundsentences #grammar #adjectives #newspaperreporters #nouns #comma

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