Modifying item in a list


I have to use a silly fake example because of proprietary work information, but look at this sentence:

"You are responsible for American League players and for National League players who are 27 and under."

(If you're non baseball fan, all players are in either the American League or National League.)

Question is this: can you prove from the grammar of this sentence that you are responsible for an American League player who is over the age of 27? I know the intent of the sentence, that being, someone else is only responsible for National League players older than 27, this person is responsible for the rest. But a coworker contends that the sentence essentially means once ANY player is older than 27, they are no longer responsible for them. There are obviously better ways to construct that sentence if that's the case, but having a better way is not proof that this explicitly does not mean that.

Is it the second use of the word "for"? The lack of a comma or other punctuation before "who are under 27"? Or is my coworker right, the sentence is poorly constructed and can be taken either way?

What grammar rule applies here?

asked Mar 20 at 12:40 Itzpetey New member

3 answers


The "you" in this sentence is definitely responsible for players 27 and under but isn't precluded of the responsibility of players over 27. That is simply not addressed.

Add the word "only" after "are." That would put the responsibility for players over 27 on someone else. No changes in punctuation are needed.

link answered Mar 20 at 13:44 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

Thanks for the reply. Two things though: 1) I'm simply interpreting a sentence, not writing it. So I'm not asking how to change it. 2) I agree that in both cases players 27 and under are this person's responsibility. The question is does the modifier after mentioning national league players apply to just national league players, or to both? Are you responsible for all American League players or just the ones 27 and under?

ItzpeteyMar 20 at 14:56

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Sounds like "you" are responsible for for both leagues players who are 27 and under. An only would have helped clarify that, but I do not find it absolutely necessary.

link answered Mar 21 at 01:05 Sarah Sunshine New member

Absolutely, but does the 27 and under restrict both groups or just the group it's immediately mentioned after. Is this person responsible for players in the AL who are over 27?

ItzpeteyMar 21 at 18:59

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To me, it doesn't make sense to have one person responsible for all players in one league and players over 27 in the other. That would leave just a few left to be someone else's responsibility. The sentence isn't clear, and it could be interpreted in more than one way.

link answered Mar 21 at 02:41 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

That's just a downside of the fake example I'm using. In the real world example, the size of the group is irrelevant.

ItzpeteyMar 21 at 19:00

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