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How do we use the determiner "this" if we want to identify more than one thing close at hand? Should the determiner be used for both nouns or just with the first one? For example

This waterfall and fountain are among considerable features of the park

Or should "this" precede both "waterfall" and "fountain"?

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  • Is it correct if I say These waterfall and fountain are among considerable features of the park? – kitty Jan 10 '15 at 12:20
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    No, I don't think so. It's too odd. – codezombie Jan 10 '15 at 12:29
  • @kitty No, just 'the'. – OJFord Jan 10 '15 at 19:16
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This waterfall and fountain are among considerable features of the park

It is okay to drop the second this in such situations.

If your nouns are post-modified it would be better to leave this:

This waterfall of rose marble and this fountain are..

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Imagine you are in a stationery shop. You say to the shopkeeper "I would like {this book} and {this pen}" because there are many books and also many pens.

However, if he has a special promotion where a book an pen are sold together (you can imagine the pen is maybe attached to the book) you would say "... this {book and pen}".

"This ... " is simply drawing attention.

To address your second example, you may use either. And each will communicate something subtly different.

If you were to say "this waterfall and fountain", you are grouping them together. As if you can point your finger, and I look to where you are pointing and I see both of them. Or we walk to a particular location, and they are both at this location. It may be natural to make such a grouping. And it may not. It will depend upon the situation. You could probably create a situation where both can be used.

Whichever one you choose, the language has to be correct:

"This {waterfall and fountain} IS ..."

(use singular because there is only one object)

"{{This waterfall} and {this fountain}} ARE ..."

(Now there are two objects, so we have to use the plural!)

Also, "among considerable features" is also not good English. "among THE considerable features" is better. "among many features worthy of consideration" or "among the most beautiful features" are better, although this is a different question.

PS the trickiest situation might be where you have several objects constituting one feature. "these steppingstones {are/constitute} one of the more notable features of...".

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  • So, you mean I should use this before both fountain and waterfall, as are not together? – codezombie Jan 10 '15 at 11:06
  • @MehdiHaghgoo - No, that's not what this answer means. You can use either one, but there are certain guidelines about what verb to use, and when it might be important to use the word this twice. – J.R. Jan 10 '15 at 20:45
  • I think it's perfectly legitimate to say 'this waterfall and fountain are...' if they're not a single unit but are not so disparate that we need to specify them each separately. I mean, if I had a book with a pen lying on top, not a set incorporating a notebook and a matching pen, I could say 'this book and pen are for you'. I don't have to specify 'this book and this pen are for you'. Saying 'this book and pen is for you' would sound strange and imply it's some sort of set. – Alan Third Jan 10 '15 at 22:30
  • @AlanThird, agreed. I think what happens in practice is that the second 'this' gets dropped. So when we say 'this foo and bar are...', there is an implicit second 'this', implied by the use of plural. – P i Jan 10 '15 at 22:53
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I am not sure exactly using one determiner in this statement is correct but if you have got a former sentence that fountain has been used there, you must use article the because fountain now is known and if you have not such a statement before main clause you are recommended to use the absolutely because I think if you use only a determiner in this sentence, in case of grammar it sounds a bit odd to the reader. I am hopeful the answer I provided could help you getting the point.

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Things close, or in-, hand are interesting - since it's usually most natural to ignore what they are.

Instead of either of your title suggestions, "this book and pen", I would say simply "these", e.g.:

Do you want to buy these?

Since it's obvious what I'm referring to.

Incidentally, if you do specify, I would say that "this book and pen" suggests the two are a set (i.e., they come together), whereas "this book and this pen" emphasises that they are separate - and I mean really emphasises, it sounds like a deliberate mix-and-match choice in a shop, for example.

For large, probably unique items, like the waterfall and fountain, I would say:

The waterfall and fountain are ...

Although I am not sure what you mean by them being "considerable features".

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  • waterfall and fountain are one the good utilities of the park. – codezombie Jan 10 '15 at 19:36

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