I am well aware that the usage of, or the omission of, the definite article "the" has been a frequently asked question, here and elsewhere. I have read up on existing questions on this matter. (But I could have missed some. So if this question has indeed been asked before, forgive me.)
My question concerns a specific case of article omission. It is my understanding that the definite article can/should be omitted before certain common nouns. For example:
Both husband and wife received serious injuries.
In the mirror, daughter sees the future, and mother the past.
The second example is more complex, because the common noun "mother" may be used as a proper noun. AFAIK, "daughter" can't.
But come to think of it, I can't articulate the exact rules that govern this kind of omission.
The aforementioned site states the rule as follows:
Before common nouns when they go in pairs
It doesn't really satisfy my inquisitiveness, because it's not a dictionary, and seems like a site for English learners. What kind of common nouns? Any specific rules? None of the other sites on article omission that I have found has this rule.
My question, in sum, is multi-fold.
- Are there more authoritative sources that talk about this issue?
- Are there more specific and detailed rules? Does the pair have to exhibit symmetry in their positions and/or functions in the sentence?
- What is it called in linguistics, if it has a name?
- In sentences where this rule applies, can we not omit, namely keep, the definite article? Basically, in these cases, is it "the article can be omitted" or "the article should be omitted"? (I am leaning towards "can be omitted".) Also would a sentence that keeps the articles read verbose? And what kind of nuances would people say are caused by keeping the articles? E.g. "Both the husband and the wife received serious injuries" v.s. "Both husband and wife received serious injuries."
- This might be another can of worms, but why can't "daughter" and "son" be proper nouns, as "Mom", "Father", or can they?