When the End of the Sentence Does Double Duty

The first extract below is from a contract I’m redrafting; the second extract is my version.

… that permits the disclosure by Institution to the Sponsor and the Sponsor’s employees, agents, and independent contractors and use by the Sponsor and the Sponsor’s employees, agents, and independent contractors of data collected from the Study subject.

… that permits the Institution to disclose to the Sponsor and the Sponsor’s employees, agents, and independent contractors data collected from that Study Subject and permits them to use those data.

Sure, in my version I use the verbs disclose and use instead of the abstract nouns disclosure and use. (Abstract nouns bad, verbs good!) And instead of repeating the Sponsor and the Sponsor’s employees, agents, and independent contractors I use them.

But the purpose of this post is to point out that in the first extract, of data collected from the Study subject does double duty, in that serves as the tail end of (I think) two long noun phrases. That structure can be economical, but it results in the reader having to complete two separate components of a sentence simultaneously when they reach the end. Giving the reader that sort of extra work to do isn’t great.

So observe what I did: instead of having of data collected from the Study subject complete two separate noun phrases, I use it once in the first part of the extract, then I replace it with those data in the second part. The result is that I cut down on repetition and give the reader less work to do.

Yeah, I treated data as a plural noun—bite me. (The contract involved science stuff, so I thought it appropriate.)

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.