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<...> he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and __ mugs.

Why there is an article before the first world and there is no article before the second one?

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In this case, plates and mugs is a compound noun -- a single object made up of more than one thing. Some common examples are peanut butter and jelly, meat and potatoes, and song and dance.

What if we switched out plates and mugs for a simpler noun?

... he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the dishes.

One could write the sentence as getting out the plates and the mugs, but that's a little awkward and repetitive. So, in this case, the author lumped them together as the one thing Rabbit was getting out.

  • No, plates and mugs is most definitely not a compound noun. The reason is that the Rabbit most likely only has those. They are the plates and mugs he owns. Not all plates and mugs. Usually, in a person's place of residence, the is used to mean: the items that are particular to that house or person. – Lambie May 23 '17 at 20:07
  • Yes, in this case, it is a specific set of things: (plates and mugs). Here is more context: Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, "Honey or condensed milk with your bread?" he was so excited that he said, "Both," and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, "But don't bother about the bread, please." Rabbit isn't really getting the plates and getting the mugs, he's getting the (plates and mugs). – Roger Sinasohn May 24 '17 at 16:06
  • A specific set of things is not a compound noun. Bells and whistles is not a compound noun. Nor is chief cook and bottle washer. Though chief cook and bottle washer are. There are three kinds of compound noun: chief prosecutor, redhead and son-in-law. Pairs that are made to go together in a catchy way are not compound nouns; they are two separate words. Good ole Pooh. :) – Lambie May 25 '17 at 18:17

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