I know that a or an in sentences like the following is your choice--it can be used there or omitted as you prefer.

We need a car or (a) bike to get out of this area. Russian soldiers will be here soon.

I'd like to ask whether the second article a in the following can be omitted.

I wonder which type of vehicle you have - a car or (a) bike

Do you have a car for you to ride or (a) bike for your girlfriend to ride?

Thank you for your help.

1 Answer 1


I would not omit the article in those two examples, though it is probably not a grammar error if you do so.

With no article the noun phrase seems to be "a (car or bike)" whereas with the repeated article it seems to be "(a car) or (a bike)". When asking a "which" question, it would be more natural to want two noun phrases, each with its own article.

In the second example the long phrases make omitting the article very unnatural. Also, since "bike" can also be a verb, omitting the article creates a garden path sentence with "ride or bike" interpreted as a compound verb. (There's no ambiguity if you finish the sentence, but such "garden path sentences are best avoided, if possible.)

  • Thank you very much for your answer, which is so helpful. I've come to comprehend this through your neat, elaborate explanation! Now I know there are two points where the second article shines--one is to make each option distinct from the rest when listing options only one of which can be selected, the second is to eliminate the possible ambiguity. Mar 15, 2022 at 16:23

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