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    #1

    The need of articles.

    We know well that for each countable noun in a sentence, there should be a corresponding article to quantify it. For instance:
    I have an apple, an orange and a watermelon.

    We won't normally say:
    I have an apple, orange and watermelon.

    But how come sometimes I can find this kind of sentence from authoritative dictionaries? This is an example from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary:
    "4 a [noncount] : the act of entering something in a book, list, etc. "
    There's no "a" for the list.

    Hope someone can tell me it's just a "special habit" in dictionaries and it's not grammatically correct.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The need of articles.

    As long as the same article would apply to each item in the list, you only have to use it once. That is, if one of the items on the list is plural, so that "a" doesn't apply, you can't use it that way, or if one (for some reason) needs a "the" instead of an "a," you can't use it that way, but otherwise, you can.

    Make sure you pack a flashlight, compass, waterproof container, rain jacket, and water bottle, in addition to your passport. (You don't pack "a" passport because it's a specific passport.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: The need of articles.

    But I post similar questions before in other English grammar forums. People generally said it was necessary to quantify each noun so that others know clearly how many is/are there for each object.

    Perhaps Barb_D's explanation is only valid in informal situations but is not allowed in formal/literary use?

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The need of articles.

    Quote Originally Posted by kachibi View Post
    But I post similar questions before in other English grammar forums. People generally said it was necessary to quantify each noun so that others know clearly how many is/are there for each object.

    Perhaps Barb_D's explanation is only valid in informal situations but is not allowed in formal/literary use?
    Perhaps Barb-D, unlike some people in the other forums you mention, knows what she is talking about. As the noun forms are singular, we know how many there are - one. You can use articles in Barb's example if you wish, but as Barb wrote (my emphasis added), "you only have to use it once".

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