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Is it correct to not use an article before the occupations in this sentence?

Two 18-year-olds, Ron Smith, mechanic, and George Major, hairdresser, were arrested yesterday.

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    For the sake of brevity, it's ok and not too uncommon; but more typical would be to use the indefinite article. – Dan Bron Oct 2 '15 at 18:29
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Yes. This usage treats their occupations as titles and is common in journalism where words equal page space.

The lack of spaces after the commas is incorrect.

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Depends where the sentence is. It's newsreader concise. If it was in the New Yorker, they'd add a "a". ;-)

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    Do you mean "newsreader concise"? – J.R. Oct 2 '15 at 18:34
  • Thanks for quick response. No, l don'. I have just seen this sentence in a grammar book, and I was really confused. – mido mido Oct 2 '15 at 18:42
  • Your comments and modifications are really helpful. – mido mido Oct 3 '15 at 3:59
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You're trying to use an appositive. Typically, you'd use an article when the appositive follows the proper noun, but you wouldn't use one when the situation is reversed:

Here are four variations (with spaces added after the commas, a convention not subject to debate):

Proper noun as appositive; note the article before the profession: Two 18-year-olds, a mechanic, Ron Smith, and a hairdresser, George Major, were arrested yesterday.

Profession as appositive with article: Two 18-year-olds, Ron Smith, a mechanic, and George Major, a hairdresser, were arrested yesterday.

Your example: Profession as appositive without article, but I would argue that, without the article, the uses here are best viewed as adjectival, in which case they are indeed permitted: Two 18-year-olds, Ron Smith, mechanic, and George Major, hairdresser, were arrested yesterday.

Adjectival profession, standard form and actually more concise: Two 18-year-olds, mechanic Ron Smith and hairdresser George Major, were arrested yesterday.

  • Two 18-year-olds, a mechanic, Ron Smith, and a hairdresser, George Major, were arrested yesterday. is ambiguous. Better is Two 18-year-olds – a mechanic, Ron Smith, and a hairdresser, George Major – were arrested yesterday. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 3 '15 at 2:17

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