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Consider the sentence: Jim wore a red jacket and hat. Does the adjective red apply to both the jacket and the hat? In my opinion it does but it lacks clarity. Is there a reference anywhere to support either side of this argument?

There are strong pros and cons on this. Sometimes determining descriptive word usage depends on strong intentions and weak implementations. Support for the grammar opinion cited is subdued and quietly restrained. Have you considered that even crazy Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the insane war and budget? Is it perhaps their positions on dangling adjectives and objects is lacking clarity? Perhaps it is the bright colors and textures of their underwear that causes this, or perhaps it is their often uncertain and flamboyant lack of clarity. I personally think it is the lack of red jackets and matching hats in the chamber.
Clarity in communication is in the sharp minds and hearts of understanding peoples, and it is the simple sentences which frustrate them most. What ought to be clear and immediately understood, can be manifestly diffused and imprecise.

The sentence given lacks poetic clarity and precision, but red jackets, hats, and ties will still always be required for sober guests and escorts as a condition of admittance to the Grammar Ball. I can guarantee you that some will not have red hats nor ties, but still be admitted.

The references I found were profoundly ambigious and unauthorativative.

Bobpursley is right. There's precious little that's written to answer this particular question definitively:
Skirts the issue.
Doesn't mention it.
Also doesn't mention it.
Not there.

The best answer I can give you is this:
The word "red" is modifying a compound direct object "jacket and hat" so it can be considered to modify both. That's how I would take it. If the hat were a different color, the author would have included it (a red jacket and black hat).


Thank you both for the answers and examples. The rule exists but if one is not careful it can be mangled and abused beyond all recognition.

I had come to the conclusion that every grammar site on the internet conveniently omitted any comment on this issue.


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