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Which of the following sentences is more correct or more preferred?

  • Throw one die after another.
  • Throw one die after the other.

As context, the sentence will be followed by

At any time, you may stop throwing dice and finish your attempt. Your attempt must end once all eight dice have been thrown.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

In that context I'd use “...after another”, as it suggests a sequence of throws. By contrast, the “...after the other” form suggests (to me) exactly two throws, rather than some number from one to eight throws. A useful comparison of terms similar to consecutive in macmillandictionary says that “one after another” indicates little time between things, which I think is sometimes true but not always. For example, the “one after another” entry at dictionary.cambridge.org says “many, in a series” and makes no mention of rate.

The form “One X after another” refers to a series of X's; as in, eg, One Monster After Another, or in Arnold Toynbee's comment about “the dogma that History is just 'one damned thing after another....'”.

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Would you say that this is also a general rule of thumb that might apply in other contexts? (I don't have any specific examples in mind, just wondering...) – Henry DeYoung Aug 29 '12 at 16:17
@HenryDeYoung, I added a paragraph with 2 examples – jwpat7 Aug 29 '12 at 16:28

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