"Black and white dogs": ambiguity with coordinate adjectives


A black and a white dog means "two dogs".
A black and white dog means "one dog".

Then what about black and white dogs?

Does this mean two things? "Dogs, each of black and white color" and "dogs of black and dogs of white"?


Posted 2014-08-05T11:26:50.617


1I think this is a good question. I'm not sure why it was downvoted, let alone twice. – snailplane – 2014-09-25T14:14:59.603



Unfortunately the plural can designate either group: (1) bicolor dogs, and (2) black dogs and white dogs.

They can be disambiguated as follows:

black dogs and white dogs

black-and-white dogs

black and white brindle dogs (brindle means several colors on the same dog)

dogs, both black and white,...


Posted 2014-08-05T11:26:50.617

Reputation: 6 719

1so "white and black dogs" means two things?: "bicolor dogs" and "white dogs and black dogs, which are not bicolor?" – None – 2014-08-05T13:33:08.000

1potentially, yes. – CocoPop – 2014-08-05T13:38:41.577

1so you should reflect that...as it is written, its still ambiguous. But thank you very much. – None – 2014-08-05T13:41:30.730

4did you perhaps not read (2) in the first line of my response? – CocoPop – 2014-08-05T13:48:16.293


I would describe brindle as a mottled brown color. A dog can be brindle and white in which case the dog will have patches of white and patches of brindle (mottled/variegated brown) but you wouldn't call a black-and-white dog a brindle. See here for a picture of a brindle: http://www.dogocanarioclub.us/images/Andy%20de%20Cielo%20de%20Canarias5.jpg and here's a picture of a brindle and white: http://949newsnow.com/upload/SUGAR2.jpg

– Jim – 2014-08-07T17:17:04.387


Thank you for your insights, and especially for your restriction on how I would and wouldn't call a black-and-white dog. Fortunately, I was a dog breeder for 20 years and black and white dogs are either spotted or brindle, as is this: http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=CHINKS%20FANCY%20BRINDLE%20BLACK%20AND%20WHITE%20HAIR%20ON%20HAND%20TOOLED%20SILVER%20CONCHOS%20NEW&_itemId=390812123952

– CocoPop – 2014-08-07T17:50:24.790