I came across this sentence: The function changes the size, position, and Z order of a child, pop-up, or top-level window.

I would write it this way: The function changes the size, the position, and the Z order of a child, a pop-up, or a top-level window.

Is there a rule or a convention to omit articles when there are more words in a list?

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    It's a stylistic choice. But my guess is yours is a minority preference. Particularly when you're doing it twice (actually, six times, in two different ways) within the same sentence. It just comes across as stilted. Apr 9, 2016 at 14:47
  • @FumbleFingers: Please consider posting your comment as an answer. My guess is that this question is a common one for non-native English speakers. (It might even be a duplicate; dunno.)
    – Drew
    Apr 9, 2016 at 14:52
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    @Drew: I might have posted an actual answer if this had been asked on English Language Learners, but not here (although I haven't closevoted, I still might vote for migration). Apr 9, 2016 at 14:56
  • Migration would be good, I think. But there are lots of folks who speak or write English quite well who could benefit from this Q&A, IMO. Some of them might not frequent ELL.
    – Drew
    Apr 9, 2016 at 14:58
  • @Drew ELU is not intended to be all things (English) to all people (whatever their level of English). And FF hopefully considers a 'My guess ... ' statement inadequate as an answer. Apr 9, 2016 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


English is better off when more brief; for that is the power of the English Language: always aim for shorter sentences especially if the language is not poetic or adhered to any metric or particular style. In the case of your fixed sentence, the addition of those articles extends the sentence unnecessarily and makes it sound extremely explanatory as if in slow motion and being elucidated to a child or an elderly person.

  • Your definition is irrelevant, as it refers to article in the sense of a section of a document. The question was about a quite different sense of "article". Furthermore, personal opinions are not really on topic in answers on this site.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 9, 2016 at 18:14
  • Fixed it.. I pasted the wrong definition and didn't check. Thanks! Apr 9, 2016 at 18:16

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