2

Here's a sentence from a textbook:

You can use the word partner to describe either a husband or wife or the person that someone lives with.

Why is there no article before the word 'wife'? Is it correct English grammar?

8
  • 3
    Welcome to ELL and thanks you for your question. The indefinite article a here is the determiner for both husband and wife. Please take a few minutes to review our tour and help center pages. Whenever possible, you should include a link to the book you are quoting. Sep 2, 2016 at 20:01
  • Thank you. It's this book: link Do I understand correctly that husband or wife here is a noun phrase and or in this noun phrase is not a part of either-or structure? Sep 2, 2016 at 20:25
  • Excellent! Now use the edit link to add the source to your question. This will be good practice for the next time you ask a question here. Sep 2, 2016 at 20:26
  • Done! Link added. Sep 2, 2016 at 20:32
  • 2
    I wasn't clear. We don't need a link to a place where we can buy the book; we need a link to the actual text quoted in the question, if it's available. For instance: issuu.com/macmillaneducation/docs/gateway_b1_sb_u1 Sep 2, 2016 at 20:35

1 Answer 1

2

You can use the word partner to describe either a husband or wife or the person that someone lives with.

This is known as parallel structure. The first paragraph at this first site explains it best. In a parallel construction repeat an article (a, an, the), a preposition, or pronoun whenever necessary to make the meaning clear. The meaning of "a husband or (a) wife" is clearly understood.

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/623/01/

At this next site, scroll down to all the NOTES about what you can omit in a parallel construction

http://english.tutorvista.com/grammar/parallel-structure.html

http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-parallelism.html

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .