What is the grammatical or syntax term for a sentence structure in which there are more than one subject or more than one object continuously in the sentence?

Example 1: In this sentence, the there are three objects.

He studies English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Example 2:

In this example there are two subjects:

The boy and the girl ate the food.

  • 1
    The syntactic process of deleting repetitious material in conjoined English clauses or phrases is called Conjunction Reduction in the grammatical trade.
    – jlawler
    Mar 11, 2018 at 16:34
  • The usual term is 'distributive coordination'. In ex 1 the direct object comprises a coordination of three noun phrases, and in ex 2 the subject comprises a coordination of two noun phrases. It's called 'distributive coordination' because the studying applies equally to "English, Spanish and Portuguese" and the property of eating food applies to the boy and the girl individually.
    – BillJ
    Mar 11, 2018 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


Not sure about how it is called in grammar of English, but "English, Spanish and Portuguese" is just the direct object, and "the boy and the girl" is just the subject. Each structure can be formed by more than one word and by more than one real world item.

  • That's true, but should be a specific name for those cases with more than one subject or object. Mar 11, 2018 at 13:09
  • Maybe. I hope with more time somebody will come with a better answer.
    – Pere
    Mar 11, 2018 at 13:32

It is called: conjunction-reduction.

In transformational grammar it is a rule that reduces coordinate sentences, applied, for example, to convert "John lives in Ireland and Brian lives in Ireland" into "John and Brian live in Ireland". (Collins)

Credit: @jlawler in the comment.

  • The usual term is 'distributive coordination'.
    – BillJ
    Mar 11, 2018 at 19:19
  • @BillJ How could you explain 347 results on Google for ""distributive coordination" if it is indeed so usual term? Mar 11, 2018 at 20:15
  • In addition, I would like to see one respected source (such Collins which stated my things) which is incompatible to Collins things. Mar 11, 2018 at 20:24
  • 3
    In general, if BillJ suggests a grammatical term, it comes from Huddleston and Pullum. Mar 12, 2018 at 4:38

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