I do not know the grammatical terms for this kind of usage. I can only give an example. I want to describe two boys called Sam and Tom. Of course I can just say

Sam and Tom are nice.

But I want to be a bit clear about their gender. But instead of the a bit verbose

The boy Sam and the boy Tom are nice.

I would like to factor out the boy. Then I am not sure the result would be which one of the following three:

The boy Sam and Tom is nice.

The boy Sam and Tom are nice.

The boys Sam and Tom are nice.

An answer that comes with the grammatical terms for such usage will be highly appreciated.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, tchrist, James McLeod, RyeɃreḁd, anongoodnurse May 18 '14 at 0:22

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is too basic for ELU, and should be asked on English Language Learners – FumbleFingers May 17 '14 at 12:09
  • I do not see "too basic for ELU" listed in the out-of-scope topics in the help center. – day May 18 '14 at 8:48
  • Well, I could have included "imho" in that comment (in all my comments, come to that). But let's face it, no native speaker would ever ask your question, and it's unlikely many of ELU's target audience linguists, etymologists, and {serious} English language enthusiasts would find anything remotely interesting in the kind of answers that would be appropriate. Just out of interest, do you have some objection to the idea that this should have been asked originally (or should now be migrated) to ELL? – FumbleFingers May 18 '14 at 16:13

The action of omitting parts of a sentence because they are understood within the context is called Ellipsis. But this is not strictly ellipsis because you are actually changing what is left after omitting the second "the boy".

The boy Sam and the boy Tom are nice.

Here is it clear that both are boys because both Sam and Tom are individually described as a "boy".

The boy Sam and Tom are nice.

Because boy is singular, here only Sam is definitely described as a boy. Tom could be Thomasina; or a man; or another boy: there's no way to know for certain.

The only way to ensure that Sam and Tom are both boys is to explicitly say that they are:

The boys Sam and Tom are nice.

This sort of "factoring out" is a form of Coordination.

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