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Consider the sentence:

"The library is infinite, or it is not a library. [NEXT SENTENCE]".

In [NEXT SENTENCE], I need to say something along the lines of : "both of these options/situations are identical", or "these describe the same thing", or "these are synonymous", but I can only do so in three words. Some of the different possibilities are thus:

"The library is infinite, or it is not a library. These are identical".

"The library is infinite, or it is not a library. Both are identical".

"The library is infinite, or it is not a library. These are synonymous".

"The library is infinite, or it is not a library. Both are synonymous".

Is it better to use 'both' or 'these' in this example to refer to a property shared by both the "infinite library" and that which is "not a library"?

Alternatively, are there any other ways of expressing this?

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  • Are you trying to make your 3-word phrase pick out the property shared by both, or trying to equate the two phrases in their totality as a (re)definition of one or more of the keywords?
    – Lawrence
    Apr 5, 2016 at 2:19
  • @Lawrence I'm trying to equate the two phrases in their totality
    – socrates
    Apr 5, 2016 at 5:28

1 Answer 1

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This is the common sentence to your examples:

The library is infinite, or it is not a library.

Your intention, as you clarify in comments, is to equate the two statements, which I'll name for convenience:

  • S1: The library is infinite.
  • S2: It is not a library.

You ask:

  1. Is it better to use 'both' or 'these' in this example to refer to a property shared by both the "infinite library" and that which is "not a library"?

  2. Alternatively, are there any other ways of expressing this?

If you say, "Both are identical", you invite the question, "Identical to what?" Likewise, "Both are synonymous" invites "Synonymous with what?" This is because identical and synonymous each takes two arguments, but the word both only applies the two statements one at a time.

That is, "Both are identical." expands to "S1 is identical and S2 is identical.", and likewise with synonymous.

This doesn't happen with the word these. That is, "These are identical." expands to "S1 and S2 are identical.", and likewise with synonymous.

So to your first question, use these instead of both. (As an aside: Synonymous is preferred because on the face of it, S1 and S2 are clearly not identical; nevertheless, they don't appear to be synonymous either. The question also doesn't say how the statements equate.)

As for your second question: yes, there are. For example, you can say the statements equate.

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