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How can we say

Mike has an apple, and Jane has an apple

in a single clause? Can I say

Both Mike and Jane have an apple

or

Mike and Jane each have an apple?

They sound fine to me but I am not sure. Is there any alternative?

Each of Mike and Jane has an apple

might sound too complicated.

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Off topic (writing advice). See: FAQ –  MετάEd Dec 12 '12 at 23:23
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All are fine except for the last. –  American Luke Dec 12 '12 at 23:49
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1 Answer

"Mike and Jane each have an apple." is unambiguous and means what you want.

"Both Mike and Jane have an apple." is somewhat ambiguous. It would usually be interpreted to mean what you want. It could, however, also mean that together they share one apple.

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Thanks! How about "Mike and Jane both have an apple"? Is this exactly the same as "both Mike and Jane ..."? –  Taro Dec 12 '12 at 23:27
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I disagree. In "Both Mike and Jane have an apple", the mere presence of the word both strongly implies that they have one apple each. The ambiguity only arises when both is omitted. –  FumbleFingers Dec 13 '12 at 0:17
    
@FumbleFingers. Thanks! –  Taro Dec 13 '12 at 0:46
    
edited based on @FumbleFingers comment. I agree that with apples it would usually be interpreted as two apples, one for each of them. –  Xantix Dec 13 '12 at 1:31
    
@Xantix: It would be the same if both Mike and Jane had almost anything, I think - they'd each have a separate and different one. They could only be supposed to jointly own the the same single thing with something like "Both Mike and Jane have a duty of care towards their baby". And even their I'd say strictly speaking they'd each have their own responsibilities, albeit effectively identical ones. –  FumbleFingers Dec 13 '12 at 3:50
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