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Which is the correct expression for say that I have two items of three possibilities?

  • Two of three?

  • Two out of three?

  • Other?

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According to Meat Loaf, two out of three ain't bad. :^) –  J.R. May 23 '13 at 10:50
    
It very much depends on context. In some contexts, you might even say I have taken two (out) of the three items. –  TrevorD May 23 '13 at 10:53
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2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

I both "two of three" and "two out of three" are correct ("two of three" might be preferred due to conciseness). For instance, those sound fine to me:

You can pick two out of those three apples.
You can pick two of those three apples.

Students are instructed to pick two out of the three questions in Section B of Paper 1.
Students are instructed to pick two of the three questions in Section B of Paper 1.

Users have two out of three options that are safe in such situation.
Users have two of three options that are safe in such situation.

Though maybe you might want to say "two (out) of three possibilities " or "two (out) of three items".

Some google hits:
"two out of three options" - 302,000 hits
"two of three options" - 2,330,000 hits

"two out of three possibilities" - 130,000 hits
"two of three possibilities" - 261,000 hits

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I think you will want to sort out the full sentence because it would not really work if you are comparing "items" to "possibilities".

Having said that, your two statements are fine depending on how you use them.

You could say "I have two of three possible items" or "I have two out of three possible items" (this seems more concise).

While you could say "I have two of three possibilities", I do not think it makes a great deal of sense.

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It may be that OP is looking for 'two items (out) of the three possibilities'. –  TimLymington May 23 '13 at 12:25
    
Yes, I think more context would be needed to fully understand what they are trying to express. –  Sam May 23 '13 at 12:26
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