2

Which one is correct?

  • I have one good and one bad question
  • I have one good and one bad questions

I can invent rationales for both answers, which does not help.

I am tempted to prefer the first proposal, "I have one good and one bad question", especially if I replace question by, say, mouse. But I also prefer "Here are one good and one bad question(s?)" over "Here is ..". This is only getting more confusing.

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  • 3
    "Here are one good and one bad questions" strikes me as decidedly ungrammatical. So does "I have one good and one bad questions".
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 9, 2013 at 13:45
  • 1
    I have two questions: one good and one bad. Any other use of one will be singular
    – mplungjan
    Dec 9, 2013 at 13:47
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    This is derived from I have one good question and I have one bad question by deleting the first question and the second I have. Question is singular in the original and doesn't change. Dec 9, 2013 at 13:48
  • @John Lawler: Thanks for the clear explanation. Would you by chance also have a nice explanation for "Here are/is .." ?
    – phs
    Dec 9, 2013 at 17:52
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    That sentence is, as @RegDwigнt pointed out, ungrammatical. You're not doing conjunction reduction on whole clauses here, just a conjoined noun phrase one good question and one bad question, with the first question deleted. Since conjoined count noun phrases are plural -- Bill and Mike are coming but *Bill and Mike is coming -- the verb has to be plural. But once again the undeleted noun does not become plural. Dec 9, 2013 at 18:44

2 Answers 2

2

The first one is correct

I have one good and one bad question

Making two distinct sentences from the original, you'll get:

  • I have one good question.
  • I have one bad question.

Both sentences are correct, but if you use

I have one good and one bad questions

and try to make two distinct sentences you'll get:

  • I have one good questions.
  • I have one bad questions.

both wrong.

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  • Euclides, Welcome to the ELU site. Please use standard capitalization and punctuation in your answer, since we are a site about that sort of thing.
    – JLG
    Dec 9, 2013 at 14:24
1

The first proposal is correct, use "and" as a conjunction there is syntactically a way of putting two different lexemes/phrases of the same category in the one spot.

So, the sentence, like Euclides wrote, is interpreted like this:

I have (one good/one bad) question.

And either of the two partial phrases in the brackets can be chosen to modify 'question'. (I say partial, because they are only noun modifiers and the full phrase needs a head, which in this case, a "Noun Phrase" (NP), is the noun itself.)

This means that this is a shortening of two longer semantic ideas, namely:

  • I have one good question.

and

  • I have one bad question.

This is why the plural of the noun is wrong. Although, as shown, there are semantically two questions, grammatically there is only one question.

As a result, the other sentence you've given beginning with here is:

Here is one good and one bad question.

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