# “the left arm and the right arm” vs “the left and right arms” vs “the left and the right arms”

I did a lot of research over the internet to try to figure out the correct way. But I still don't have a definitely answer. I wonder which of the following are correct?

a. The left arm and the right arm are equally important

b. The left and right arms are equally important.

c. The left and the right arms are equally important.

d. The lengths of the left arm and the right arm are similar.

e. The lengths of the left and right arms are similar.

f. The lengths of the left and the right arms are similar.

g. The length of the left arm and that of the right arm are 20 inches and 20.5 inches, respectively.

h. The lengths of the left and right arms are 20 inches and 20.5 inches, respectively.

i. The lengths of the left and the right arms are 20 inches and 20.5 inches, respectively.

• No need to get up in arms about this ;^) You haven't found a definitive answer because there isn't one. There's not a single correct way to say this, just like there's more than one way one could say "Jack jumped over the candlestick." – J.R. Sep 19 '13 at 15:31

These all seem to be perfectly fine. In English, sentences can be constructed to have the same meaning using different wording, with perhaps slight differences.

"a" suggests that there is a left arm and a right arm, and that both are of equal importance.

"b" and "c" suggest that there are left arms and right arms *plural, though "a" can also mean "all left and right arms" in the proper context), and that they are of equal importance.

"d", "e", and "f" suggest the same thing as "a", "b", and "c" respectively, but the word "similar" instead implies a sameness and equivalence in the arms, but not an equality or even any importance (greater, lesser, or any at all).

"g", "h" and "i" likewise are similar to "d", "e" and "f" or "a", "b" and "c" respetively, but instead of suggesting a quality, informs a specific fact about the arms (first the size of the left arm (or arms), then the size of the right arm (or arms)).

If you only want to speak about one set of arms, you would use a, d, or g. If you wish to speak about several sets of arms, you would use b, c, e, f, h or i depending on what you want to say about them.

If you want to talk about all arms in general, a, d, or g would likely be preferrable. However, in case g, h, and i, one will likely infer that you are talking about two specific arms, because arms tend to come in a wide variety of sizes. Stating two specific sizes lends one to believe you are talking about a singular set with a specific size.

None of these 'answers' are the 'correct' one, they are simply different ways to construct sentences with slight variations on what each one means.

• Conjunction reduction is an optional rule. You can delete repeated material, in part or in whole, provided you follow the rule. These all follow the rule, so they're all grammatical options. As to which ones to use, whatever sounds best in context. And I do mean Sound; say them out loud and listen for which one sounds best. That's the right one to use. As Duke Ellington put it, "If it sounds good, it is good." – John Lawler Sep 19 '13 at 17:41
• Hence why I emphasize they are "slight" variations. Very slight, all sounding and meaning minutely different things. – Zibbobz Sep 19 '13 at 18:22