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what is the meaning of this sentence:

"Gold and silver ornaments are precious."

Does it mean that:
'ornaments made of gold and ornaments made of silver are precious'
I mean does it refer to two different types of ornaments ,i.e., gold ornaments and silver ornaments

or does it mean that
'ornaments containing both gold and silver are precious'
That is referring to only one type of ornaments which are made up of both gold and silver (like 14k yellow gold)

Thanks

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Andrew, Nathan Tuggy, Varun Nair, shin Oct 5 '17 at 15:02

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    Or does it mean gold the metal is precious and silver ornaments are precious? – bobpal Oct 4 '17 at 16:37
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Without context, either of your two proposed interpretations are possible.

The conjunction "and" used in this way with two adjectives doesn't specifically mean that both adjectives apply to all members of the group or that members have only one of the adjectives apply.

  • While many interpretations are indeed possible, it's disingenuous to imply they're all equally possible. Even without more context, the most common interpretation is that ornaments made of gold, and ornaments made of silver, are both precious. – Andrew Oct 4 '17 at 17:10
  • I don't think we can go that far. That seems more like a presumption on your part. Gold and silver are commonly combined as in ribbon or ornaments, especially for Christmas and would thus be described as "gold and silver ribbon/ornaments" – eques Oct 4 '17 at 17:20
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    @Andrew I suppose if I just saw a headline or some such with no context that said "gold and silver ornaments are precious", I'd assume they meant gold ornaments and silver ornaments. But that would just be a guess based on my prior knowledge of the world. Nothing in the grammar indicates that's the correct reading. "Red, white, and blue flags are everywhere on the 4th of July" surely means flags with all 3 colors. But "Red, white, and blue flags were used as signals at the race", I'd probably guess they meant red flags, white flags, and blue flags. – Jay Oct 4 '17 at 19:21
  • I had posted a few comments, but deleted them since it's just quibbling over trivial differences. – Andrew Oct 4 '17 at 20:04

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