2

Do you need an and after wife in this sentence?

The husband, wife, mother as well as the sister are coming.

1

To me, that sentence sounds clunky whether you add an ‘and’ or not.

I would say one of these:

The husband, wife, and mother are coming, as well as the sister.
The husband, wife, mother, and sister are all coming.

  • 2
    Your second example is wrong because "Both" refers to two people, not four. – TrevorD Jul 16 '13 at 11:23
  • ‘Both’ has been extended to uses with more than two elements for over six hundred years. There is no good reason to limit its use to only two elements (except dogged prescriptivism, which I don’t consider a good reason), especially since there is no proper alternative for more than two elements. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '13 at 12:27
  • And your authority for that is? Chambers, Oxford (ODO), Longmans, and Webster dictionaries do not agree with you. A common and perfectly acceptable alternative is "any of". – TrevorD Jul 16 '13 at 13:55
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    You still have not presented any evidence for the now acceptability of both being used for other than two elements. Citing accepted historic usage, and the excesses of C19th grammarians, is not sufficient. AHD and Collins are two more dictionaries not allowing the usage. Wiktionary deems it 'obsolete'. And the fact that OED gives no examples of the usage post 1842 is a strong argument for any reasonable descriptivist to label it now obsolete. We're left with the subset of prescriptivists who for some reason think that everything the C19th inquisitors said must be counted as heresy. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 17 '13 at 5:29
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    It's not something I've ever heard spoken in any register. There don't seem to be any hits on Google in the first few pages referencing other than two elements. Whereabouts do you live, JBJ, and how much do you travel? I'd reckon the usage is quite localised. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 17 '13 at 17:02

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