Which of the sentences below is correct and why?

I'm not a loser or pessimist.

I'm not a loser or a pessimist.

1 Answer 1


It depends on what you are trying to say.

I'm not a loser or a pessimist.

The indefinite article in front of both objects means the sentence should unequivocally be interpreted as

I am not a loser and I am also not a pessimist.

in which 'loser' and 'pessimist' are separate objects, each with different nuances.

In this context listeners might understand

I'm not a loser or pessimist.

to be the same as above. However it could be interpreted as

A pessimist is a loser, and I am not that.

in which 'pessimist' is a parenthetical phrase used to describe what you mean by 'loser'.

  • 1
    Agree. However it might be worth noting that an entirely negative alternating construct (“neither“ ... “nor”) with both indefinite articles is the clearest way to express this. For an emphatic declaration the contraction should be removed. — I am neither an X nor a Y. Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 6:06

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