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the doctor and the stamp-collector

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:11 am
by navi
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.

Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:02 pm
by Phil White
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.

Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:09 pm
by Shelley
Even with the second comma, I can't help it: John Smith, a doctor and a stamp-collector, walked into a bar.
Sorry.

Re: the doctor and the stamp-collector

Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:26 pm
by Phil White
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.