which is correct as a title: "The river system and the water supply" or "the river system and water supply"? And would you remove all determiners and leave it like this: "River system and water supply"?

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Article after 'and' and 'or' Commented May 15, 2017 at 17:16
  • @FumbleFingers I think this is slightly different. The OP seems to be specifically asking about in a title... which has different rules depending on how you write titles... many headlines, for example, omit articles.
    – Catija
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 22:18
  • Do you have some context perhaps? For example, what is the body of work about? Is it a scientific/technical paper? Is it a work of fiction? Is it a headline in a newspaper? To me, "The River System and The Water Supply" sounds the best, but it sounds a little lacking, like "Whose river system?" and "Whose water supply?" Commented May 16, 2017 at 9:11
  • Let's say it is a scientific paper or talk, wouldn't "River system and water supply" be appropriate as a title as the area is already known to the auditor or reader at this point of the study?
    – zenith3
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


In English, adjectives can be "reused" in a pattern like A (B1 C1) and (B2 C2). Or they can be repeated for emphasis or clarity. This works for determiners too.

I put on the red shirt and hat [the red shirt and the red hat].

Determiners are omitted if the noun is plural. The red shirt and the red hat all together is a plural noun.

However, in this situation:

The red shirt and the red hat.

you have a bigger NP formed from two conjuncted smaller NPs.

The smaller NPs need their determiner, because they are singular nouns, but the bigger NP does not. So you'd never do "The the red shirt and hat."

But you can't omit the first individual the, even if you can omit the determiner after the conjunction as sort of a "shortcut."

If each of the NPs were plural then you may be in a situation where no determiner is needed.

Coins and cards were all over the place, I made sure to pick them up.

  • I don't see the relevance of singular/plural to OP's question. Did you really mean to write The the red shirt and hat? What is that supposed to illustrate? Commented May 15, 2017 at 17:18
  • There's a couple of situations where determiners can be omitted and the noun being plural is one of them. The other situations are if the noun is a type or concept, or the noun is being used abstractly, and some fixed expressions.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 17:20
  • But OP isn't asking about such contexts. He's asking whether he can reasonably delete an article that might otherwise have been "expected" in constructions of the general form the X and [the] Y. Commented May 15, 2017 at 17:26
  • I felt I had to include that to explain why the second article can be deleted but not the first.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 19:54

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