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When using a compound predicate noun where both parts would normally be preceded by an article, is it correct to leave one article off? Is it correct to use both? Is it a matter of preference? If so, is one way generally preferred over the other?

For instance:

This book is a help and blessing.

or:

This book is a help and a blessing.

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    I think you should normally repeat the article, but I'd be interested to know if there are any idiomatic "set phrases" where we usually don't do that. Oct 21, 2011 at 19:04
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    A wash and brush? Oct 21, 2011 at 19:11
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    A bow and arrow.
    – Daniel
    Dec 10, 2013 at 2:55

1 Answer 1

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Neither is incorrect, but the latter would be preferred for clarity, since the omission is not efficient enough to justify the change. The former is a grammatically valid ellipsis of the second article, i.e. the second article is understood rather than written/spoken. According to a quick and dirty Ngram, the two options are close in popularity, with a slight leaning toward retaining both articles.

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  • Great answer! Thanks! And that "Ngram" tool looks to be extremely useful... =) Oct 21, 2011 at 19:19

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