I have been wondering about whether to use singular or plural in lists of compound nouns where the second part of the compound noun is not repeated as in “the English and the French teacher” rather than “the English teacher and the French teacher”. I am also unsure about whether or not the article of the second item in a list has to be repeated.

I wrote some example sentences with my interpretation of them. I would be happy if you could check whether the sentences and my interpretation are correct.

A1: Tom talked to the English and French teacher (1 teacher who teaches both English and French)

A2: Tom talked to the English and the French teacher (2 teachers)

A3: Tom talked to both the English and the French teacher (2 teachers)

A4: Tom talked to the English and French teachers (more than 2, unless teachers teach both languages, then at least 2)

A5: Tom talked to the teachers of English and French (at least 2 teachers)

Teachers can teach more than one subject, but trees can carry only one type of fruit. Does this affect the use of articles? (Let’s ignore the possibility of artificially/genetically modified trees with more than one fruit type)

B1: Julia played between the apple and cherry tree (2 trees) (is another article required before “cherry”?)

B2: Julia played between the apple and the cherry tree (2 trees) (is “the” second the superfluous?)

B3: I think this sentence doesn’t work with both because of “between”. Julia cannot play between the apple tree and between the cherry tree …

B4: Julia played between the apple and cherry trees (more than 2 trees)

B5: Julia played between the trees of apple and cherry (sounds odd …; at least 2 trees)


  • I agree with all your examples and interpretations except B4, where I would say "among" rather than "between". – Greg Lee Feb 25 '18 at 7:38
  • 'Between' works with B4 where there is a clearing between a grove of apple trees and a grove of cherry trees, though I'd add the second 'the'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 25 '18 at 8:58
  • Thanks to both of you. Is B2 then also to be preferred over B1? Is it always better to keep the second article if the nouns are referring to different items/individuals? – bee guy Feb 25 '18 at 12:12

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