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What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences?

  1. The relationship between a mother and daughter.
  2. The relationship between a mother and a daughter.

I know both are correct, but do they differ in meaning? If so, how? What does it mean when the article is placed before daughter?

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2 Answers 2

You might also consider "the relationship between mother and daughter" (no a) or "the relationships between mothers and daughters" (plurals).

For me "the relationship between a mother and a daughter" would probably be about a single pair of people, while the others might be more likely to cover more general cases.

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There is an implicit difference, but it is fairly subtle - by omitting the article in the first phrase, it implies that the aspect of the relationship being discussed is almost universal, while the inclusion of the article in the second implies that the relationship in question may be a fairly specific one.

Something like:

"The intimate nature of the relationship between a mother and daughter is sometimes confusing."

versus:

"In the "Comeback" by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine is about a journey that tests the relationship between a mother and a daughter to the extremes."

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2  
You've picked two good examples to illustrate your point, but, egads! That second sentence is awful. I wonder if the preposition is supposed to be there; moreover, the book title is actually two words – I think, though it's hard to say for sure. I suspect the writer meant to say: "Come Back" by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine is about a journey that tests the relationship between a mother and a daughter to the extremes. –  J.R. Jun 22 '13 at 20:56

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