Is there any difference between these two examples?

1. (Both) the Senate and the House of Representatives are legislative bodies.
2. (Both) the Senate and House of Representatives are legislative bodies.

Is dropping the second "the" correct form? Do the two examples have the same meaning, making it but a stylistic choice?

What about in these two examples:

3. (Both) the Olympic and the Paralympic Games...
4. (Both) the Olympic and Paralympic Games...

  • 3
    It is a stylistic choice. – ElendilTheTall Jun 25 '13 at 14:43
  • It's a case of Conjunction Reduction, which deletes repeated material, in order to shorten sentences by omitting unnecessary duplication. – John Lawler Jun 25 '13 at 16:47
  • Some sticklers (not I) might suggest your sentences three and four could use a hyphen after "Olympic," since "Olympic," as it is used there, is not conjoined with the Paralympic Games; they are two separate entities. Example: "Long- and short-term memory tests can be useful diagnostic tools." You could also simply add an S to "Olympic" and the hyphen would not be necessary. – rhetorician Jun 25 '13 at 16:54
  • 1
    Beware: [1) The red and the blue boxes are there. 2) The red and blue boxes are there.] I think the meaning changed here. – Anna Taurogenireva Jun 26 '13 at 1:02

In your first two examples, there is no difference in meaning, though perhaps there is slightly more emphasis using a second "the". If an article were discussing a Congressional action, the author might use both definite articles to show that both bodies came separately to the same decision.

In #4, leaving the "the" out is possible because both adjectives can be paired with "Games".

I believe the best use of leaving both "the"s in the sentence would be to emphasize the unity of the two bodies. If the emphasis isn't important in what you have to say, well then eliminate the second "the".

In short, it is a sylistic decision; neither is incorrect.

It seems to me that if you drop the article before a compound noun, you're suggesting the words cover the same individual.

E.g., "a lawyer and an honest man" would be two people; "a wife and mother" would be one.

  • But the question is specifically about the, not a. – TrevorD Jul 10 '13 at 13:44
  • It depends on the context. If you say "she was a loving wife and a wonderful mother" you're talking about one person. If you say "A wife and a mother came to the meeting" you're talking about two different people. But as @TrevorD mentioned, the question is specific to "the". I simply wanted to clarify for future readers. – Andreina Jul 9 at 2:29

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