Agreement of multiple objects with one verb

1

How would a native speaker understand such a sentence?

She truly believes in the power of diversity and collective intelligence

  1. She believes in the power of diversity AND SHE ALSO BELIEVES in collective intelligence

  2. She believes in the power of diversity AND ALSO IN THE POWER OF collective intelligence

Баян Купи-ка

Posted 2018-06-08T09:45:05.717

Reputation: 113

1She believes in both the power of diversity and collective intelligence. – Enguroo – 2018-06-08T09:52:15.217

@Enguroo hi, if i wanted to emphasize the power as referring to both objects, would i absolutely invariably have to use it twice or at least duplicate the preposition OF? – Баян Купи-ка – 2018-06-08T10:15:33.120

1If you want to, you can say "the power of diversity" and "the power of collective intelligence" but to me it sounds tautological. You'd better say "She believes in the power of diversity and the one of collective intelligence". Don't use "of" without "the one" in this case because "the one" is used instead of "the power" to avoid the unnecessary use of two words to express one meaning. – Enguroo – 2018-06-08T10:30:23.667

You are very welcome! – Enguroo – 2018-06-08T14:42:03.463

1One can indeed use "...of diversity and of...". Reads quite natural. (Though i'd pluralize "power" if doing it.) – cHao – 2018-06-08T19:35:12.017

Answers

2

The statement is ambiguous.

If collective intelligence can have the attribute of power then diversity and collective intelligence can both be objects of preposition of.

If collective intelligence cannot have the attribute of power, then the power of diversity and collective intelligence are the objects of preposition in.

The meaning would involve a semantic decision.

She believes in the veracity of his remarks and three square meals.

The statement is grammatical but odd on a semantic level since it involves two somewhat different meanings of believe in, one meaning for the first object and another for the second object. Also, three square meals cannot have the attribute of veracity.

If the meaning of the verb is the same for both objects, and both objects can have the attribute in question, as in your examples, then there is no such oddity. But it is not absolutely clear that the attribute power applies to both, and you would have to repeat power if absolute clarity was your goal and you did not want to change the sentence structure.

If your question isn't merely of an academic nature and you're looking for writing strategies, you could rephrase the sentence in any number of ways. Here's one:

She believes diversity and collective intelligence are both powerful.

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2018-06-08T09:45:05.717

Reputation: 116 610

thank you, i come from the angle of a translator, so am trying to figure out what the author as a native speaker could have had in mind – Баян Купи-ка – 2018-06-08T14:18:55.293

1Most native speakers would understand it to mean that she believes diversity and collective intelligence are both powerful (in some way). – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-06-08T14:26:43.567