A pencil and (a) pad

EnglishBug

Senior Member
Chinese
I want to say "Each student should have a pencil and (a) pad." I'm wondering if the word "a" here is necessary or redundant. Thanks.
 
  • kitenok

    Senior Member
    Hi EnglishBug,

    To expand on Spira's answer, which I agree with:

    It is mandatory to leave out the second article when the two objects listed are part of an indivisible whole or set: I'd like a gin and tonic. Do you have a mortar and pestle, and so on. It is mandatory to include the article when the objects are thought of as different categories: I'd like a beer and a hamburger. I went to the store and I bought a watermelon and a roll of toilet paper...

    "A pencil and pad" could logically go together as a set, but could also be thought of as separate objects, so the repeated article is optional here.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Hi EnglishBug,

    To expand on Spira's answer, which I agree with:

    It is mandatory to leave out the second article when the two objects listed are part of an indivisible whole or set: I'd like a gin and tonic. Do you have a mortar and pestle, and so on. It is mandatory to include the article when the objects are thought of as different categories: I'd like a beer and a hamburger. I went to the store and I bought a watermelon and a roll of toilet paper...

    "A pencil and pad" could logically go together as a set, but could also be thought of as separate objects, so the repeated article is optional here.
    I prefer your very complete answer to my very simple one !!
     

    Cameljockey

    Senior Member
    British English
    walk into a bar and order a 'beer and hamburger' and see what you get...

    It is almost universally correct to leave out the second article for sets, except for example when explaining to children how to make sandcastles, 'take a bucket' (lift and show bucket) 'and a spade' (lift and show spade). Apart from such occasional usage, kitenok is spot on. Sorry if I'm being a pedant, but 'mandatory' always gets me thinking. :)
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    But what if the list is very long, and include both "a" and "an"? For example:

    I need to buy a pencil, (a) red pen, (a) ruler, (an) eraser, and (a) notebook.

    Would you include all the articles or would you only include the first one "a"?
     
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