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Which of the following is correct?

  1. Want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer or an Artist? Let's Learn and Grow Together.
  2. Want to be Graphic Designer, Photographer or Artist? Let's Learn and Grow Together.
  3. Want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or an Artist? Let's Learn and Grow Together.
  4. Want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer or Artist? Let's Learn and Grow Together.

I believe that #2 is correct because when we use commas, and & or in a sentence, on changing the sequence structure of the sentence it shouldn't be affected. E.g., a Graphic Designer, an Artist or Photographer, etc.

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  • 7
    There are some good answers so I'll just add this comment. Think of the articles "a" and "an" as being the same word. You simply add the "n" to make it sound right when followed by a vowel. Therefore, in "Want to be a graphic designer or artist?" the "a" correctly modifies "artist," while sounding good with "graphic."
    – BoomChuck
    Dec 9 '20 at 17:03
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    Why are those examples in title case? What is the context? Dec 10 '20 at 1:14
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    Example #1 is extremely non-idiomatic. But that's not because it includes both a and an (as @BoomChuck says, to a native speaker these are essentially just "the same word"). It's because if you discard a repeated element (the indefinite article, in this case, discarded before "Photographer"), you can't naturally resume including it again later in the "list". Dec 10 '20 at 14:57
  • 7
    Definitely not 2
    – Strawberry
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:46
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    @wjandrea: You think? Consider the same "awkward resumption of previously-deleted element" with a different determiner: I know his family. I've met his father, mother, and his sister. That just sounds really clumsy to me, but it sounds fine if we avoid deleting his before mother (or alternatively, if we do delete the determiner before sister - both those approaches are equally good to me). Dec 11 '20 at 12:27
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#3 and #4 are both correct; which you choose is a matter of style.

#2 is incorrect because it has no articles at all.

#1 has faulty parallelism so is technically incorrect, but you’ll probably find examples like that, especially when spoken.

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    I don't agree that #3 and #4 are simply stylistically different. The repetition of the article carries a change in emphasis. In this case, #3 carries a slight implication that these are three distinct choices, whereas #4 implies that the course (I presume that is what this for?) on offer is general for all three. In other circumstances, it can imply that the choices offered are exhaustive or that a choice must be made. Dec 10 '20 at 11:16
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    @JackAidley I could use either to mean either. #3 feels slightly more formal to me, but that’s it.
    – StephenS
    Dec 10 '20 at 13:24
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    @JackAidley If there is such an implication, it's very very slight.
    – user253751
    Dec 10 '20 at 15:22
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    @JackAidley You aren't wrong, but within the context of an advertisement for a service or company (which this appears to be), the meanings are effectively identical. The company is offering three distinct training options, or is offering training in a group of topics. That's a distinction without a difference. Dec 10 '20 at 19:13
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    I completely agree with Jack. My natural instinct is to [subconsciously] reject any other meaning other than the "exclusive choices that you have to pick from right now" one for #3 and #4. If I read it in this context, I'd roll my eyes a bit and feel that the company involved did not have a great grasp of the language. Further, this might (perhaps prejudicially, I'll admit) make me think twice before engaging with them for business. Surely not desirable! For the additive case that's actually the intention of the phrase, #1 is the way to go. Dec 10 '20 at 20:32
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I prefer this: "Want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer, or Artist?:

Please use the commas to denote separate items when referencing 3 or more. I know some people don't care about it, but by not practicing whenever appropriate, it can catch you up some time in the future when it's more vital to prevent misunderstanding.

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#3 and #4 are both correct. Either every item in a list should have an a/an or there should just be one in the beginning (matching the form required by the first item).

  1. Want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or an Artist?
  2. Want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer or Artist?

Or starting with "an" when appropriate:

Want to be an Artist, Graphic Designer or Photographer?

Although I would generally favour #4 to not be unnecessarily verbose.

Using multiple articles[1] (#3) would make more sense when using different types[2] of articles (which may include some items not using articles), for example:

Want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or Picasso? or
Want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or the best painter in the world?

In this case you can't omit articles as done above (you can't say just "Photographer" instead of "a Photographer").

[1]: Or other word types like possessive pronouns (his/her/their)

[2]: "A" and "an" are considered to be of the same "type" in this context.

1

I believe it would be grammatically correct to say either:

"Want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or an Artist?"

or

"Want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer or Artist?".

I would personally say the first of the two.

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    The third and the fourth
    – Llama Boy
    Dec 9 '20 at 18:11
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Number 2 is incorrect, because at least one article is required in this construction. Repeated articles can be omitted (and are implied if omitted). My preference would be for number 3, followed by number 4, but number 1 is perfectly acceptable, omitting the exactly repeated "a" but specifying "an". I would prefer a comma after "Photographer", to mark off each list item, but that is a version of the serial, or "Oxford", comma, and so is optional.

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It should be

  1. “Do you want to be a Graphic Designer, Photographer or Artist?”

OR

3.”Do you want to be a Graphic Designer, a Photographer or an Artist?”.

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  • 6
    True, but all lower case. These are skill/professional descriptions, not titles. Dec 9 '20 at 18:39
  • You don't need "Do you" here, it's implied.
    – wjandrea
    Dec 10 '20 at 22:24
0

When should 'a' and 'an' be written in a list containing both?

There is no interdependency between the two. The decision whether to use "a" or "an" depends purely on the word immediately following the article. It is determined only by the sound of the following word. If the spoken word starts with a vowel sound (not necessarily a written vowel) then we use "an". If the word begins with a consonant sound, then we use "a".

In the following list, both left and right hand sides are correct.

A bow and arrow. <------------> A bow and an arrow.

A morning and afternoon in Paris <------------> A morning and an afternoon in Paris.

An eagle, sparrow and dove sat on a tree <------------> An eagle, a sparrow and a dove sat on a tree.

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