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Somebody asked me about this sentence:

My business is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others.

I know that it should be "...and other holidays", but I'm struggling to explain why.

Is this sentence grammatically incorrect? If so, is there a specific rule that's being violated? Or is it grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical? Or something else?

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Grammatically it's okay because you could say, e.g.

I spoke to John, Mary and others.

As far as I am aware 'others' when used as a pronoun, conventionally only ever refers to people. I don't think it would apply to family pets - maybe not even young children. Thus I would say it is an idiomatic usage.

Note: Please refer to remarks in the comments below this question for further insights.

  • Others often refers to other people, but it can refer to other things as well. – KannE Feb 28 at 5:22
  • @KannE - Could you give examples? – chasly from UK Feb 28 at 8:59
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    "She left us six pears; this one is riper than the others". Note that "others" is a common noun, not a pronoun. – BillJ Feb 28 at 9:15
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    @chaslyfromUK, my theory after searching (for hours) for others as a pronoun (i.e., meaning other+plural noun, not including people) is that it seems to usually require an easily recognized antecedent in order to sound natural. E.g., Are you closed for the holidays? Yes...April Fools' Day, Easter, Arbor Day, and others. There are better examples online; I could C&P some for you if you like. – KannE Feb 28 at 18:35
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    @KannE - Ah yes, that makes sense. I've made a note in my answer about these comments. – chasly from UK Feb 28 at 19:03
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In this specific example “others” is not grammatically correct. It needs “holidays” in there somewhere.

“... other holidays.” would be fine. So would “... most holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others.”

Notable exceptions to this rule would be headlines and signs, which routinely break normal grammatical rules in the interest of brevity.

  • Thanks for the reply. Like I mentioned in my question, I know that it needs "holidays" in there somewhere- but why is it wrong? Is there a specific grammar rule that's being violated? – Kevin Workman Feb 28 at 17:03
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    KannE had an excellent comment previously about antecedents. I was merely providing a couple of relevant options to illustrate. (I suppose I should have posted a comment after his/hers rather than an answer but as a newbie I wasn’t allowed to comment at that point.). I appreciate your reference to semantic nonsense. But your original example sentence is reasonably clear, just missing an important element. As subsets of the implied word “holidays”, “Christmas” and “Thanksgiving” lead us in the right direction to figure the sentence out, but stop short of providing us with a true antecedent. – Pegasus Feb 28 at 17:19

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