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Let's take an example where a woman have a red bag, red shoes and red glasses (multiple items (nouns) described by the same adjective : red). To describe her, if I write :

女{おんな}の人{ひと}は赤{あか}い鞄{かばん}と靴{くつ}と眼鏡{めがね}を持{も}っています。

I feel like it's not clear that the woman wears different items but all of the same color (red). This sentence can imply that she has a red bag, but black shoes and blue glasses. To clarify that all of the items listed are red, I think it is grammatically correct to write :

女{おんな}の人{ひと}は赤{あか}い鞄{かばん}と赤{あか}い靴{くつ}と赤{あか}い眼鏡{めがね}を持{も}っています。

But I feel like the 赤{あか}い adjective is redundant here.

I can probably reformulate my sentence and write :

女{おんな}の人{ひと}は鞄{かばん}と靴{くつ}と眼鏡{めがね}を持{も}っています。全部{ぜんぶ}は赤{あか}いです。

But I'm wondering if, without reformulation, I can apply an adjective (red) to a list of multiple nouns without any ambiguity. Kind like mathematically :

赤{あか}い * (鞄{かばん} + 靴{くつ} + 眼鏡{めがね})

  • 1
    Just as a note: this type of ambiguity about adjective scope across multiple nouns is present in most languages, it's definitely not unique to Japanese. "Red shoes and bag" is ambiguous in the exact same way. – Mindful Dec 15 '19 at 22:24
4

As long as you are inserting the adjective 「赤い」 in front of only the first noun or each of the three nouns, you will not be forming an unambiguous, natural-sounding and adult-speaker-like sentence. At least I could not think of such a sentence.

Instead, what most adult native speakers would do in this case would be to use the noun 「赤」 and form sentences such as:

  • 「その女の人、鞄、靴、そして眼鏡、(すべて or どれも)赤(揃{そろ}えている or コーディネートしている)。」

  • 「その女の人( or )身{み}に着{つ}けている鞄、靴、そして眼鏡(すべて or どれも)(赤です or 赤統一{とういつ}されている)。」

I did not use 「持っている」 because it can suggest that all or part of the items are in the closet at the moment and the woman is not wearing any or all of them.

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