1

Sindbad was a rich and a famous sailor.
Sindbad was a rich and famous sailor.

Which of these are correct?
What is the general rule for using articles before a noun with two adjectives?

3

The second one is correct. The first one makes it sound as if he is a 'rich' (not a noun) and a 'sailor,' who is famous for being a sailor.


I can't think of a situation where you would use the indefinite article (a/an) twice in a single noun phrase. In most cases, you wouldn't use the definite article twice either to describe the same thing.

*The green and the blue marbles

clearly means two separate groups of marbles.

The exception, you can use multiple (definite) articles with superlatives, but it sounds stilted and kinda anachronistic.

Isaac Newton was the greatest and the luckiest of the mortals.

(From the New York Public Library: http://web-static.nypl.org/exhibitions/newton/introduction.html)

These adjectives use the definite article because you must be referring to a definite noun when using them. You can't say a greatest mortal. I would argue that the "the" can be analyzed as a necessary part of the superlative, at least in writing.

  • 1
    Do you have an authoritative source that supports one or the other? I'm not really sure which one you're advocating, after you said "On second thought...". – Alex W Aug 11 '15 at 17:28
  • Do my edits clarify? – Azor Ahai Aug 11 '15 at 18:16
  • It's a stylistic thing. See A Brave and a Good Idea. It's slightly more poetic but not incorrect. – Mynamite Aug 11 '15 at 21:52
2

The first construction is rare, and likely to be used only as part of a poetic or literary style.

In normal everyday speech and writing, use the second example.

protected by tchrist Aug 17 '17 at 11:23

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