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Why, in some cases, are articles omitted when there is "and" between certain countable and not abstract nouns. For example:

cat and dog are not usually friendly towards each other

or

mother and son feel each other well.

Is there any rule for that?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jul 28 '17 at 17:47

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  • Yeah there's a thing for that. It's bare coordination. – AmE speaker Jul 28 '17 at 15:19
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    I have a feeling that the usage of "and" is unrelated to the use of an uncountable noun. "Man is the most dangerous animal of them all" Still an uncountable noun, but no "and" necessary as there is only one noun mentioned. You can argue that mentioning more than one ("cat and dog") makes it clearer that you're using uncountable nouns, but I doubt that it actually makes a difference as to grammatical correctness. Clarification is not the same as correction. – Flater Jul 28 '17 at 15:34
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    'Both mother and son are doing well' is an idiomatic statement, and bordering on a fixed expression. But I'd expect a switch to the count usages 'The mother and her two sons are all doing well' if this fitted the facts. So there is at least a certain amount of idiosyncrasy involved here. // 'The cat and the dog are not usually friendly towards each other' is certainly grammatical – and idiomatic (more so, I'd say, than OP's version). This is probably deletion, modelled on the familiar FE 'They fought like cat and dog'. I wouldn't expect 'Wolverine and mountain lion rarely meet'. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 28 '17 at 16:01
  • Certainly relevant: The definite article implying the generic idea of something. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 28 '17 at 16:01
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    Possible duplicate of Omission of the indefinite article to eliminate ambiguity – AmE speaker Jul 28 '17 at 16:49
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These are proper nouns.

Proper nouns are typically names or certain roles (such as family relations like "Mom", "Dad", "brother", etc.). Names are capitalized, roles are usually capitalized.

For example, "I told Mom I didn't want any" - Mom doesn't take an article, in the same manner as names like Jason, Maria, etc. wouldn't.

Using mother and son as proper nouns when you are not responding to your mother or your son is not overly common, but possible.

Mother and son feel each other well.

It's possible to use the species name of a dog or cat, or other common household pet, as a proper noun if you haven't named it yet or don't know its name.

Cat, get out of the way.

I'm going to get you, fish. (while fishing)

This is probably far more common with the "baby" version of cat (puppy) and dog (kitty).

Come here, kitty.

Aww, Puppy likes the belly rubs.

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