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I've seen the pattern 「...と...とどちらが」when comparing two items, but I'm unclear how it works. Here's an example: 肉と魚とどちらが好きですか。"Which do you prefer, meat or fish?"

I'm unclear what the second と after 魚 is doing. I know you can include a と after BOTH items when you're listing two items with "and", but then it seems like that 「肉と魚と」 is just floating in space. Since this is a standard polite sentence and not a casual conversational one, it seems like some other particle like は, or even just a comma (indicating an omitted は) should be there.

Or, is that second と supposed to be the "target of comparison" と, the same one used in ...と同じ or ...と違う?

What's the grammar breakdown of this common phrasing, especially for the second と?

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According to デジタル大辞泉, it is not the と meaning and (格助詞), but a particle of another category 並列助詞. It is a marker for enumeration.

[並助]いくつかの事柄を列挙する意を表す。「君―ぼく―の仲」 「幸ひの、なき―ある―は」〈源・玉鬘〉

Note that weblio lists it as a 格助詞 and 並列 is a usage. So the category is a matter of opinions.

Either way, both と are more like commas and different from と in と同じ/違う.

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  • That reflects in my question about "肉と魚と just floating in space". So would it be reasonable to say 「すしとてんぷらと食べています」? It's weird to me how throwing in a second と just eliminates the need for other case particles (格助詞). Correct me if I'm missing some obvious detail here
    – Hikonyan
    Oct 29, 2022 at 3:44
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    @Hikonyan すしとてんぷらと食べています is ok. Re 肉と魚と, it is floating, just like which do you like better, meat or fish? Syntactically which do you like better is a complete sentence.
    – sundowner
    Oct 29, 2022 at 10:27
  • I see... the comparison to the English sentence makes sense. So my conclusion is that 肉と魚と IS in fact floating in space, and the second と meaning "and" is just included out of convention - even though usually a second と isn't used when listing two items.
    – Hikonyan
    Oct 29, 2022 at 14:36

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