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I got a quick question and don't know how to search for it. I want to write

The red car and the green car are moving.

But it feels inconvenient to repeat the word "car" so my question is, which shorter version is right:

  1. The red and green car are moving.

  2. The red and green cars are moving.

There is only one car of each color, so I feel the second sentence would imply that there is more than one car of each color, am I right?

  • The last sentence is grammatical but really ambiguous on it's own. I wouldn't say it like that unless the car(s) are previously identified – Azor Ahai Oct 21 '15 at 17:44
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When two or more Nouns connected by and refer to the same person or thing, the Article is used only before the first Noun only; When they refer to different person or things, the article is repeated with each Noun.

Example 1:

I have a black and white horse.

Meaning: I have a horse which is partly black and partly white.

Example 2:

I have a black and a white horse.

Meaning: I have two horses, one is black and the other is white.

If you say:

The red and green car are moving.

It has two mistakes: First, it implies that there is one car which is both green and red in colour. Second, the Be Verb is incorrect here.

One way to make it correct is inserting an article before "green," so this would become:

The red and the green car are moving.

As far as I know, You are right about the second sentence.

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    Ok that sounds reasonable. Thank you for pointing out that first mistake, of a car with two colors. I did not even think of this possibility :) I will wait for maybe a second opinion and then accept the answer. – user104857 Oct 18 '15 at 16:24
  • @user104857 One thing I forgot to mention is that the Be Verb is only incorrect in case there is only one car which is partly green and partly red. – Usernew Oct 18 '15 at 16:26
  • Don't worry, that is clear to me. I just did not even think of the possibility to understand this sentence as if there is only one car (in which the plural form of the Be verb is wrong) with two colors. – user104857 Oct 18 '15 at 16:31
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    @user104857 Although it is possible that the repeated article is enough to clarify that there is exactly one car of each separate color, I find it takes me too long to work that out in my head, and that it is easily misread. Whenever you apply conjunction reduction, you should make sure that the result will always be read the same way as the original without the omitted words. I would be far more comfortable with a sentence like Both the red car and the green one are moving. – tchrist Oct 18 '15 at 16:37
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    @tchrist If this sentence is out of context (as it is in the question) your version feels to me the best. However, this was actually only a simple example of a sentence appearing relatively often in my Master thesis, where it is clear from the context that there are only two cars, one is red and the other one is green. In the end I will just use the article "the" twice, as suggested by Usernew – user104857 Oct 18 '15 at 16:53

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