0

If you have an article in a list (in this case, the), but an article (in this case, a) precedes the list, like so:

You can power a command block by using a:

  • button
  • lever
  • redstone torch
  • redstone block
  • powered comparator
  • the magical nonexistent one-time block
  • etc.

Would you use the word the in the list correctly, although there is already an article before the list?

This can also be written like so:

You can power a command block by using a button, lever, redstone torch, redstone block, powered comparator, the magical nonexistent one-time block, etc.

And you can also just take out everything else, like so:

You can power a command block by using a the magical nonexistent one-time block.

These both are examples of more confusion.

  • 3
    Put the colon after "using", and add "a" to the beginning of each phrase except the one with "the". This is not so much about correct English as it is about readability. Use parallel construction in a list, especially a bulleted list. – Drew May 28 '16 at 2:26
  • I don't think there are any specific rules regarding bulletted statements, but in the case of paragraph form, I would add an "or." So the new sentence would be "You can power a command block by using a button, lever, redstone torch, redstone block, powered comparator, or the magical nonexistent one-time block." – user177357 May 28 '16 at 5:35
  • Someone is systematically voting to close all your questions. This is the second question of yours I've met in the review queue. In your shoes, I would flag this behavior to the mods. – Mari-Lou A Feb 9 '18 at 10:58
  • 1
    Arguably, the a before the list is incorrect, and the correct article should be inserted in each bullet point. At least most of them are a's. / Your final example is unacceptable. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '18 at 11:54
1

I agree with @Kris's answer in general. But, in this context, "the magical nonexistent one-time block" seems to be an inside joke, so I might let it pass. It could be that it's a reference to an earlier passage, or inside humor for whatever branch of engineering this passage refers to, ...or, maybe they are Homestar Runner fans: http://www.hrwiki.org/wiki/Integral_Article

  • It is not an inside joke. I couldn't think of anything in my example needing an article, so I just put that. – haykam Aug 26 '16 at 20:09
  • 1
    @Peanut I"m glad you clarified the magical nonexistent one-time block, because I was going to suggest that, as long as it's non-existent, it could take the indefinite article just as well as the definite article. So that item in your list could fit with the "a" preceding the list, and you could simply delete "the". – Andreas Blass Sep 26 '16 at 1:52
0

You just cannot, as it has eventually become clear towards the end of the question, have a "common factor" outside that you ignore selectively inside.

Here's what I mean:
The article outside (before the start of) the list is meant to apply to each and every item in the list. If an item in the list has an article of its own before it, that would be in addition to the one common to all items. Like so: … by using a the magical nonexistent … — ungrammatical.

Factor the article out from the list if it applies uniformly to each and every item in the list and not otherwise.

You can power a command block by using a:

  • a button
  • a lever
  • a redstone torch
  • a redstone block
  • a powered comparator
  • the magical nonexistent one-time block
  • etc. [— no article]
  • @Peanut the iff (with the double-f) was not a typo. – Kris Sep 30 '16 at 8:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.