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    #1

    Correct use of articles

    I keep struggling with the use of articles with conjunctions -- "and" and "or".
    Native English speakers and teachers, please help me clarify which form is correct to use in each of the following cases.
    (If both a&b forms are correct, please tell me the reason. Also, in formal writing, such as academic/technical/business writing, please tell me which is preferred to be used if both forms are correct grammatically.)

    <Use of indefinite article "a">
    1a) I have a pen, a pencil, and a notebook.
    1b) I have a pen, pencil, and notebook.

    2a) I have a lemon, an apple, and an orange.
    2b) I have a lemon, apple, and orange.

    3a) I will bring a pen, a pencil, or a notebook.
    3b) I will bring a pen, pencil, or notebook.

    <Use of definite article "the">
    4a) Drop the pen, pencil, and eraser.
    4b) Drop the pen, the pencil, and the eraser.

    5a) Drop the pen, pencil, or eraser.
    5b) Drop the pen, the pencil, or the eraser.

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Correct use of articles

    All ten are perfectly correct. There are no grammatical rules about this. One might prefer a) or b) in each pair depending on subtleties of context.

  2. Newbie
    Interested in Language
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    #3

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Not a teacher

    Actually, I think that "1b, 2b, 4a" are more appropriate. Yet, I am not a native speaker, just reading The Chicago Manual of Style a lot.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 24-Dec-2015 at 09:30. Reason: Adding 'Not a teacher'.

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    #4

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Mila, please don't forget to state that you are not a teacher.

    probus and I both think they are all correct. We cannot comment on which might be 'more appropriate' without knowing the wider context.

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    #5

    Re: Correct use of articles

    ** I am not a teacher. **

    I don't think 2b), "I have a lemon, apple, and orange," is correct. Each of those nouns requires an article.

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    #6

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Thank you for all your comments. I would like to take native English speakers' comments and advice for my future reference; however, as Mr./Ms. GoesStation says, as for 2b), placing an article for each noun might be clearer (maybe...?) because some people may take "one whole lemon, but not one whole apple and one whole orange"?? Is that the reason you are saying that I should place an article in the case of 2b)?

    Well, if 2b) requires an article for each noun, how about in the case of "or"? Should I follow the same rule? (I have a lemon, an apple, or an orange.)

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    #7

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Yes, you should also use "a(n)" with "or."
    I am not a teacher.

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    #8

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Thank you. You all helped me a lot understand the structure better.

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Correct use of articles

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I don't think 2b), "I have a lemon, apple, and orange," is correct. Each of those nouns requires an article.
    Why?

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    #10

    Re: Correct use of articles

    I have a bell, book and candle. Is there anything wrong with that chestnut?

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