1. He is a good person and a good teacher.

  2. He is a good person and a teacher.

Do both the sentences mean the same? Does second sentence mean that he is a good teacher or simply a teacher?


It is an interesting and ambiguous example. Normally the adjective would apply equally to the parts and the whole.

The Godfather is an interesting book and film.

(I infer that both the book and the film called "The Godfather" are interesting. If I wanted to suggest that the film was not interesting I would need to be explicit "... but a boring film")

But in this case "good" has two quite different meanings, and contextually has different meanings in "good person" (morally and ethically virtuous) and "good teacher" (able and skillful at teaching)

Saying "He is a good person and teacher" creates an ambiguity, since the word good can't apply equally to both nouns and it is unclear what the intention of the speaker was. I'd probably assume he was a skillful teacher, but I'd wonder if the speaker was using "weasel words" (to say actually he is a poor teacher, but tricking the listener into believing the opposite)

So to be clear, use a more precise adjective

He is a good person and a skillful teacher.

(Able, professional, competent, hard-working, clear, etc)

  • I would hesitate to be so strict. If you said that someone was a good person, teacher, and cricketer, I would assume that you meant to say, in a compact fashion, that he was a morally admirable person, and skilful at teaching and cricket. If you preceded either or both of the following nouns with an indefinite article, I would assume that you were deliberately implying that 'good' (in either sense) did not apply to it or those following. – Michael Harvey Jun 6 '20 at 7:03
  • I agree, that is probably what I'd guess, but I think it leaves a doubt about the intent of the speaker. Do they actually mean "virtuous teacher". Are they deliberately avoiding saying "good teacher", to suggest the person is not. When an adjective is being used like this, with two different senses, it doesn't hurt to repeat it, or use a more precise adjective. – James K Jun 6 '20 at 7:15
  • @Jamesk can we say "the Godfather is an interesting book and a film" in the place of "the Godfather is an interesting book and film". Will removing article 'a' change the meaning or both sentences will still mean the same? – user116295 Jun 6 '20 at 7:16

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