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Let's say I've got an apple, a banana, and an orange.

Which of the following are ok, if any?

I've got an apple, banana, and an orange.

I've got an apple, banana, and orange.

The actual sentence I'm editing is: "... in sandy soil with either a moss, an algae, or a sandy surface". I'm wondering if the "an" before algae and the "a" before sandy surface are necessary. Are there any other ways of writing this? What formal rule does this involve?

Thank you.

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I always use separate indefinite articles for separate nouns.

Take this sentence: I ate an apple, an orange, and a guava.

Now, suppose, I need to be specific and say that the apple was juicy, I can simply add the adjective in front of apple. So, my new sentence becomes: I ate a juicy apple, an orange, and a guava.

The reader/listener is sure that only the apple is juicy and not the orange or the guava. If I had written I ate a juicy apple, orange, and guava, wouldn't it mean that all the three fruits were juicy?

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A single article preceding all items of a list is appropriate only if it can be grammatically applied to each individual list item. In this case, it is not grammatical to say "an banana":

I've got an apple, banana, and orange.

It would have to be rewritten like so:

I've got an apple, a banana, and an orange.

But if the article can be applied to each item, then the repetition is optional but unnecessarily verbose:

I've got an apple, an orange, and an apricot.

I've got an apple, orange, and apricot. (Equivalent meaning.)

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