John bought himself the lightest, the most recently manufactured, and the least expensive camera in Singapore.

Can this possibly mean that there are three cameras in total?

  • Never thought of this before! Good question. It may mean three cameras and to avoid it, I'll adjectify it. *John bought himself the least expensive light-weight latest camera. Note no commas! Maybe, others put light on it.
    – Maulik V
    Aug 20, 2014 at 8:03
  • 2
    The sentence given by the OP is fine, but I'm afraid the version in the comment above is unacceptable.
    – user230
    Aug 20, 2014 at 9:26
  • @snailplane your all comments on my comments will be better and helpful if they show the reason in addition to point out mistakes.
    – Maulik V
    Aug 20, 2014 at 9:33
  • 2
    This comment isn't intended to teach you; it's a warning to the OP to ignore your comment since I can't downvote or delete it. Of course I could spend more of my time teaching you if I wanted to, but I'm under no obligation to do so. My comment is helpful as it is; "it could be more helpful if you volunteered a lot more of your time" is not a valid criticism.
    – user230
    Aug 20, 2014 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


Yes it can - although it's ambiguous, and without further context people won't be sure whether it was three cameras or one particularly good camera. If you want to specify three cameras, here's a re-wording that makes that clear:

John bought himself the lightest camera in Singapore, as well as the most recently manufactured, and the least expensive.

Still not perfect, but a lot clearer. If you want to show only one camera you'd be best off doing something like this:

John bought himself a camera, which was the lightest, most recently manufactured, and least expensive in Singapore.

Both of these examples are much wordier than yours, but unfortunately that's the price that has to be paid for reducing ambiguity.

EDIT: Jim raises a good point about "camera" being singular, but the issue is that the statement can be filled out as such:

John bought himself the lightest [camera], the most recently manufactured [camera], and the least expensive camera in Singapore.

Because you're talking about the same type of object the entire time, saying "camera" for all cases can be a bit redundant, and omitting it is not uncommon. Here's Jim's alternative:

John bought himself the lightest, the most recently manufactured, and the least expensive cameras in Singapore

The issue here is that this could imply that he bought a significant number of cameras based on those qualities - not specifically one of each. A phrase like "I bought the cheapest and tastiest foods for the party" almost certainly doesn't mean you bought one cheap food and one tasty food, it means you bought an undefined quantity of food that was a balance of cheap and tasty.

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