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"A scientist or engineer might be interested in estimating ........"

Or

"A scientist or an engineer might be interested in estimating ........."

Which grammatically correct/appropiate and why? Thanks.

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    Both are OK. If you are concerned about parallelism between "a" and "an", do not worry. That is controlled just by the first sound "s" and not by whether there are any other words.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 17:15
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  • My reading of the sentences indicates to me that, conceptually, in the first there is one individual (who may be a scientist or an engineer) whereas in the second there are two individuals (one a scientist and one an engineer). The article, conceptually, identifies. The mind requires to be able to name a thing in order to conceptualise it. And the article indicates the capacity to be named (i.e. to be identified and conceptualised). The difference between the two sentences is subtle, but I believe it is definitely there.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 18:05

1 Answer 1

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Both sentences are grammatically correct but, obviously, convey differing senses. 1. "A scientist or engineer might be interested in..": In this sentence the writer says about a person who is both an engineer and a scientist. This makes it: "A (scientist or engineer) might be interested.." 2. A scientist or an engineer might be interested.. ": In this sentence the writer is speaking of two different nouns, a scientist and an engineer. Hope this helps

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  • It is not obvious that the two phrases do indeed convey the different senses discerned by @RawahaKB. If I wanted to convey the idea that someone who is both a scientist and an engineer might be interested in something, I would say " A scientist who is also an engineer...".
    – JeremyC
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 22:51
  • the sentence in the question is the shortened form of your given sentence. Please follow the comment of @Nigel_J.
    – RawahaKB
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 4:33

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