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Is it proper English to say

a psychiatric and an equine experts

to refer to two separate experts, a psychiatric one and another equine one?

In the following phrase, it's unclear whether we're speaking of one or multiple people:

a psychiatric and an equine expert

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    You can't use "a" with a plural noun, so "a psychiatric and equine experts" doesn't make any sense.
    – alphabet
    Jun 12, 2023 at 22:42
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    @alphabet So, the most concise way would be to repeat the noun "expert"? "a psychiatric expert and an equine expert"?
    – Geremia
    Jun 12, 2023 at 23:08
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    Or "a psychiatric expert and an equine one."
    – alphabet
    Jun 12, 2023 at 23:26
  • @alphabet — How does that disambiguate? Jane is a psychiatric expert and an equine expert. Jun 13, 2023 at 2:40
  • @alphabet Your statement is about one person (so it seems); mine is about two.
    – Geremia
    Jun 13, 2023 at 4:22

1 Answer 1

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While it is true that English has many ways to reduce sentences to make them more concise, it isn't always possible. Often, you have to carefully express exactly what you mean to avoid ambiguity. This is definitely one of those situations.

  • a psychiatric and equine expert. <-sounds like one person is an expert in both fields
  • a psychiatric and an equine expert. <-still sounds like one person!
  • psychiatric and equine experts <-sounds like there could be several of each and still doesn't rule out the possibility that some could be both

If you want to avoid the repetition of saying "a psychiatric expert and an equine expert", you could say something like:

Two experts, in psychiatry and equines respectively.

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