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Do we need to use an indefinite article before each option while using 'or' (as in the former case)?

"The point or state at which a person or a company breaks even."
"The point or state at which a person or company breaks even."

Or do we use it before the first option (as in the latter case)?

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2 Answers 2

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A person or company creates the sense of a category to me, two things which should be treated as equivalents. There is a cat or dog making noise outside implies that you believe it's definitely one of those two things.

A person or a company feels softer I think, with less of a feeling of "the group consists of these things*, more like "here are two possible examples of what I'm talking about". It's a very subtle difference!

  • Would you like a coffee or tea? (these are your two options, want one of them?)
  • Would you like a coffee or a tea? (I'm offering these two things, but maybe I have others if you ask!)
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You don't have to; and I'd prefer the second one with one "a", unless you want to emphasize both of them, a "person" and a "company", in your sentence.

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