In a language with number agreement on determiners, would the phrase "the good boy and girl" have an adjective and article that is marked as plural since "the" and "good" modify a plural noun "boy and girl", or is this construction translated literally as "the good boy and the good girl" (where the determiners and adjectives only conform to the genders of "boy" and "girl")?

My next question is whether this varies from language to language?

  • 1
    It varies. The same happens with agreement on the verb, and pronominal forms. Interestingly, plural agreement is more common on the verb and even more common on pronominal forms. Greville Corbett has discussion about this in his books Gender (1991), Number (2000), and Agreement (2006).
    – Keelan
    May 14 at 5:12
  • 1
    I have a hunch gender and limitations in article scope will be more of a stumbling block in such cases than number. For example, in Romance languages, you can’t usually have two nouns determined by the same article even without modifying adjectives or disparate genders (*le garçon et homme, *el niño y hombre, etc.), so the question kind of becomes moot. German appears to opt for agreement with the first noun (meine liebe Mutter und Vater and mein lieber Vater und Mutter both give hits in Google, but the reverse don’t). May 14 at 22:55
  • I suspect "the good boy and girl" is a little strange in English, cf. "the good teacher and student", even more awkward. The German exx do not sound natural, either; you just don't say "der gute Junge und (das?) Mädchen" when what you want to say is "der gute Junge und das gute Mädchen". As for mother and father, there's "meine lieben Eltern, (that is) mein lieber Vater und meine Mutter" where the poss.pron. should be repeated, adj. can rep. Exx. abound, "wir servieren heißen Tee und Kaffee" vs "wir servieren heißen Tee und Eis" elucidates the adj. may serve both nouns but that's semantics May 16 at 16:56


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