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In a question paper, there are many questions and the professor intends to say that all the questions are weighted equally. Most commonly, I have come across the following:

All questions have equal weights.

However I also came across the following recently, which sounds ungrammatical to me, but I am not sure.

Each question has equal weight.

Is the second usage also correct? Somehow I feel equal does not come across as same in this sentence.

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  • Have you ever wondered what an equal opportunity was?
    – Airymouse
    Feb 13, 2017 at 14:11
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    FWIW, I would prefer someone saying "Each question is weighted equally" . It's not really that the questions have "weight" but the questions have points values an the point values are weighted the same.... or something like that. I'm more familiar with the second way but I'd use "an" as discussed in an answer below.
    – Tom22
    Feb 14, 2017 at 0:55

2 Answers 2

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Not only is your second sentence correct, it is the more commonly used.

A question has a weight, it does not have several weights.
Therefore, with multiple questions, each has a (singular) weight.
Therefore, each question may have an equal weight.

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  • It doesn't say each question has an equal weight though, it says "each question has equal weight". I suppose the question may be whether it is correct to refer to something as having "weight" rather than "a weight". I believe it is correct, although it doesn't sound as though it should be. Perhaps "All questions are equally weighted" would be clearer.
    – Bekahland
    Feb 13, 2017 at 14:02
  • An equal weight is simply my emphasis. The point applies whether or not it is added to the sentence.
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 13, 2017 at 14:31
  • Without "an" we might momentarly think of the questions as "weighty" as in deep or meaningful, while saying they have 'a' weight or 'an' equal weight suggests that the questions possess something, not merely an adjective.
    – Tom22
    Feb 14, 2017 at 0:57
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Chenmunka's answer deals with the issue of singular weight versus plural weights. There remains the issue of equal. This refers to how the questions' respective weights relate to each other. So it is nonsense to say, of a single question, that it has equal weight. Instead, your first suggested sentence is fine, as is this one:

The questions have equal weights.

If you wanted to say something about the questions individually, then Each could work, e.g.

Each question has 10 marks.

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  • 'Equal' is often used in contexts where it means 'the same' [as all the rest]: They are campaigning for equal rights'. This carries into singular-form usage: 'There should be an equal opportunity for all' [New York Times; Gutenberg]. 'Carries equal weight' is idiomatic. Jan 5, 2021 at 17:41

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