Consider the following sentence:

(1) The project will include Alice, Bob, and an expected two new hires.

This sounds correct to me; it means we are expecting to hire two new people and will put them on the project together with Alice and Bob. But logically, it seems bizarre to have a singular article "an" together with a number "two"; in most cases a noun quantified by a number word doesn't also get an article:

(2) The project will include Alice, Bob, and two people from marketing.

But removing the "an" from sentence (1) sounds definitely wrong to me:

(3*) The project will include Alice, Bob, and expected two new hires.

Although it could be fixed by inverting the word order:

(4) The project will include Alice, Bob, and two expected new hires.

What is the rule that makes (1) grammatical?

  • I wonder if it has something to do with "an" referring to an implied "expectation." As in: "...and an expectation of two new hires." But, not only is this changing the meaning of the original, but there is no grammatical reason to support it that I'm aware of. In any event, we can't say "...and an expected hires." which leads me to think that it is the number two that is what is being expected. If so, the number two is itself singular, even if it characterizes a plurality of hires.
    – Nonnal
    Oct 30, 2015 at 21:48
  • @Nonnal you're right, it is essentially a duplicate. However, I wouldn't regard the accepted answer there as answering the question. Nov 12, 2015 at 7:26

1 Answer 1


This may be too comma ridden, but if I had to say it that way I would go with:
The project will include Alice, Bob, and, an expected, two new hires.
or possibly better:
The project will include Alice, Bob; plus, an expected, two new hires.

  • Those both look wrong to me. Nov 12, 2015 at 19:32
  • Yeah, I'd probably go with (4) if I had to write it.
    – Seeds
    Nov 12, 2015 at 22:07
  • Does that mean that (1) does not sound right to you? (It sounds fine to me) Nov 12, 2015 at 22:47
  • I think it would sound fine, if spoken, I just don't see a way to write it that I like. (i.e. punctuate)
    – Seeds
    Nov 12, 2015 at 22:50

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