To me, it sounds fine to say "She wore a black shirt and red skirt", without the indefinite article before "red skirt".

However, in "She wore a black shirt and red skirt revealing slim legs", I worry that the lack of an indefinite article makes it sound as though both the shirt and the skirt are revealing slim legs, rather than just the skirt. On the other hand, adding the indefinite article makes it sound a bit cumbersome.

Should I include an indefinite article?

  • 2
    Perhaps the answer lies in a different change, if you describe what it is about the design of the skirt which allows it to reveal the legs, you may get the same information in a more subtle way. Is the skirt short, mid-length, slit, translucent.... I suppose that doesn't get you the slimness of the leg, but I assume that's in keeping with other descriptions of the character?
    – Spagirl
    Nov 6, 2017 at 13:00
  • This is actually just a toy sentence I made up for the question; the real one is quite a bit longer. But your point is well taken.
    – Tyler
    Nov 8, 2017 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


I would say "yes" to the headline question and the one in the post. It would possibly do both - improve the clarity and hurt the flow.

I'd go for a comma. "She wore a black shirt, and a red skirt revealing slim legs." That way the reader knows where to pause.

[Opinions differ on the serial (Oxford) comma. I've always been a big fan of it myself but my parents, Margaret Thatcher and Batman always advised against it.]

  • 1
    Hadn't thought of the Oxford comma. Be sure to give my regards to both/all four of them.
    – Tyler
    Nov 5, 2017 at 18:19
  • 1
    That’s not an Oxford comma. There are only two items, so you don’t need any commas. Nov 6, 2017 at 6:47
  • Dale - fair point. I was thinking of the "before the conjunction" requirement and missed the "list of three". I'll agree that technically you don't need any, but I still think it adds something to Tyler's sentence (see? I'm incorrigible). I was probably looking too hard for an opportunity to squeeze in my favourite Oxford comma joke. Nov 6, 2017 at 8:15

In the second case, yes add it. It would make it more clear. In general, if you detect ambiguity, eliminate it, clarity trumps all else.

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