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Is it ok to use "red and black buses and cabs" to mean "red and black buses and red and black cabs" for a city that has red buses, black buses, red cabs, and blacks cabs?

If not, what would be a better construction? And are there any formal writing guidelines/rules around this? Formal as in something documented in style guides such as Chicago Manual of Style?

  • I would use 'red buses and cabs, and black buses and cabs'. 'Red and black buses and cabs' to me means buses and cabs which are all painted in both red and black, perhaps red up to the bottom of the windows and black above. – BoldBen Sep 27 '16 at 10:10
  • Thanks, @BoldBen. That makes sense to me. Just updated the question as I am hoping to be on firmer ground here... – WriteEquipped Sep 27 '16 at 11:22
  • @WriteEquipped Knowing the context would be useful. I would use one formulation to describe street traffic in a novel, another for instructions in a tourist guide. – michael.hor257k Sep 27 '16 at 12:10
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    Consider "buses and cabs, some red, some black". – Lawrence Sep 27 '16 at 13:49
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    @WriteEquipped You're welcome. Around here, answers tend to follow the lines of the question :) . It would be nice to have a "what the OP really wanted to ask" button, though. :P – Lawrence Sep 28 '16 at 23:01
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I would use 'red buses and cabs, and black buses and cabs'. 'Red and black buses and cabs' to me means buses and cabs which are all painted in both red and black, perhaps red up to the bottom of the windows and black above.

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