The following is an excerpt from the blog posted by "a third culture kid" in the Japan Times. What does "Individual things that make us, us." mean? This sentence looks incomplete and how can you make it complete?

“Everyone is different, and that’s what makes life interesting,” Osaka tweeted last year. “We all have our own backgrounds and stories. Individual things that make us, us.” I couldn’t agree more with her statement.

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Hello, Fujibei,

The first "us" is the direct object, and the second "us" is the object complement, that is, a complement that refers to the first "us." Compare with: "Individual things that make us different from others."

A better way of saying "Individual things that make us, us" would be, in my opinion, "Individual things that make us who we are."

fujibei posted:

What does "Individual things that make us, us." mean? This sentence looks incomplete and how can you make it complete?

“Everyone is different, and that’s what makes life interesting,” Osaka tweeted last year. “We all have our own backgrounds and stories. Individual things that make us, us.” I couldn’t agree more with her statement.

Hi, Fujibei,

I agree with Gustavo's parsing and suggestion for revision. Another option besides "individual things that make us who we are" is to use a reflexive pronoun: "individual things that make us ourselves."

You are right that the sentence is incomplete. It is incomplete even with the revisions we have suggested. The sentence is a deliberate fragment. It can be parsed as an appositive or as a conjunct in relation to the preceding sentence:

  • appositive reading: We all have our own backgrounds and stories—individual things that make us, us.
  • conjunct reading: We all have our own backgrounds and stories and individual things that make us, us.

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