Understanding “and” connecting adjectives modifying noun in the plural

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I believe

for professional and enthusiast programmers

can naturally mean “for programmers who are both professional and enthusiast”. Can this phrase mean, on the other hand, “for both professional programmers and enthusiast programmers” (the latter doesn’t have to be professional)? If it can, which is the preferred interpretation?

Answer

Your second interpretation is more correct. It is for professional programmers – those who program in exchange for money – and enthusiast programmers – those who program because they are interested in programming, whether or not they are paid to do so.

Your first interpretation is exclusionary:

  • Oh, you’re a professional programmer who just views it as a job, not because you’re interested? Stay away.
  • Oh, you’re interested in programming but you don’t get paid for it? Stay away.

Added from comment:

To avoid confusion, you will sometimes see the “[noun]-s that are both [adj1] and [adj2]” case written as “[adj1], [adj2] [noun]-s”. For example, “professional, enthusiast programmers.”

This interpretation implicitly adds “also” to the meaning. For example, “programmers who are professional and [also] enthusiasts.”

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Yosh , Answer Author : GalacticCowboy

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