the doctor and the stamp-collector

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the doctor and the stamp-collector

Post by navi » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:11 am

Are these sentences correct:

1) John Smith, a doctor and stamp-collector, walked in.
2) John Smith, a doctor and a stamp-collector, walked in.


3) John Smith, the doctor and stamp-collector, walked in.
4) John Smith, the doctor and the stamp-collector, walked in.

In all cases John Smith is both a doctor and a stamp-collector.

Gratefully,
Navi.
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Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Post by Phil White » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:02 pm

Strictly theoretically, the final comma after "collector" makes what precedes it parenthetical, and thus the meaning you give would be correct.

In reality, the repetition of the article in sentences 2 and 4 make it more likely that John Smith, the doctor and the stamp collector are three different people, so you have contradictory interpretations for those two sentences. Were I to see them, I would tend to assume that the punctuation was wrong, and therefore three people were involved. Either way, sentences 2 and 4 are incorrect. Either the repeated article is correct and therefore the final comma is incorrect or the final comma is correct and the repeated article is incorrect.
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Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Post by Shelley » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:09 pm

Even with the second comma, I can't help it: John Smith, a doctor and a stamp-collector, walked into a bar.
Sorry.
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Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Post by Phil White » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:26 pm

Shelley wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:09 pm
Even with the second comma, I can't help it: John Smith, a doctor and a stamp-collector, walked into a bar.
Sorry.
Yes, absolutely. The repetition of the article trumps the comma every time.
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