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A few days ago I was playing a board game with some family members and we had the following situation:

  • Each person had several dice in their posession
  • Each person had to place one die in the center of the table
  • One person at the table had to instruct everyone else to do this

The phrase that was used at the time was, as in the title, "Everyone, put your dice in the middle", but there was some discussion afterwards about whether this was a correct sentence as it could be interpreted as instructing everyone to perform the action on all of their dice (each person 'owning' multiple dice). On the other hand, "Everyone, put your die in the middle" would seem to suggest that all of the people being talked to share ownership of the one die. Using 'dies' was also suggested to clarify both halves of the statement, but it feels like an awkward usage that is probably wrong.

Which sentence would be correct for the context?

Note: I'm asking more about the correct use of Dice/Dies/Die here, not so much ways that the sentence could be made less ambiguous with larger changes (e.g. "Everyone, put one of your dice in the middle" / "...One die in the middle", etc.)

  • As is often the case with English, the meaning of your sentence must be determined in part from the larger context. There is nothing wrong with this. – Hot Licks Aug 25 '15 at 12:24
  • Note that many (possibly even most) native speakers just use dice for the singular as well as the plural - as shown by the number of written instances of a loaded dice, a weighted dice, a crooked dice, etc. Personally I think die is a little "precious" (sense 4). – FumbleFingers Aug 25 '15 at 12:37
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Although you don't want "larger" changes to the sentence structure, I think that a minor change-- "Everyone put A die in the middle"--best clears this up.

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I would unwaveringly say, "Everyone, put your die in the middle." This is similar to "Everyone, put your left hand in the middle of the table."

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Everyone, put one of your own dice in the middle.

  • Great. Another DBDV, a plague upon this forum. – deadrat Sep 2 '15 at 7:41

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