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The definite article with compound subject
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Hello everybody,

I've read that when ˜and' connects two nouns standing for things or people that are closely linked, a determiner is not normally repeated before the second noun.

I don't know whether ˜boy' and ˜girl' are closely linked.
Do I have to use ˜the' before ˜girl' in the sentence ˜The boy and THE girl are playing'?

I think ˜king' and ˜queen' are closely linked. Can I say ˜The king and queen are dancing'?

Thank you.

Aneeth Prabhakar

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Rachel, Moderator,
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Here's an answer posted previously on the Grammar Exchange by Marilyn Martin.

Thanks to Aneeth for the focused queries about articles. The essence of the question is

"When two nouns are conjoined with 'and,' is the definite article not normally repeated before the second noun?"

It depends on whether the two nouns are seen as one entity or two. If the conjoined noun phrase is seen as a single unit or "single participant," you can, but do not have to, repeat the definite article:

--Have you ever seen such a devoted pair as the boy and [the] girl at the end of the table?

--The king and [the] queen agreed on funding the expedition

--The boy and [the] girl are playing

--The king and [the] queen are dancing

--The mother and [the] daughter stood by their father after he was indicted

It's not wrong, but also not necessary to repeat the definite article.

Conversely, you should repeat the definite article when a distinction is expressed between the two noun phrases:

--There's always been a lot of rivalry between the boy and the girl

--The king and the queen held opposing views on almost everything/came from very different cultural backgrounds

--A dispute erupted between the mother and the daughter over the mother's new tattoo

Often there is ambiguity when two nouns are conjoined and the second one has no definite article:

--?The boy and girl needed a mother

This could mean that each of them needed a mother or that they needed one mother for the two of them. To resolve the ambiguity one would say

--The boy and the girl each needed a mother OR

--The boy and [the] girl needed a mother for them both

Let's put it this way: you're never wrong to repeat the definite article, and in some cases--if the pair is seen as one entity--you don't have to repeat it.

Marilyn Martin

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Rachel, Moderator,
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