In the sentence "a copy for every two people", i.e. 'to share", would every two be synomymous with every other, where the latter would be used in the same sense as it is used in "I used to visit her every other week"?

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    Every other means 'in sequence'. If you give a copy to every other person, you give one to the first person you approach, none to the second, one to the third, none to the fourth, and so on. Sharing is up to them. If you provide a copy for every two people, you simply provide one-half as many copies as people. Again, without explicit information, sharing is up to the recipients. – John Lawler Oct 12 '18 at 14:37
  • In practice, I go every other week and I go every two weeks are equivalent. I suppose that's really just because the Arrow of Time dictates that there's always a natural sequence (and concept of "consecutive") for weeks, but there's no such equivalent for "people" (who might want a printed copy of something). – FumbleFingers Oct 12 '18 at 14:44
  • As it is, this question belongs on the English Language Learners StackExchange. However, if you rephrase it as a question about when the two constructions are equivalent, and when not, and if you show a bit of preliminary research, then you'd have a nice on-topic question. – linguisticturn Oct 12 '18 at 17:00

No, they are not synonymous.

In common usage:

  • with "a copy for every two people", two people share one copy, as you indicate; whereas
  • with "a copy for every other person", one person from each pair gets a copy and the other misses out.

There is no sharing implied in the "every other person" case.

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    Interestingly, however, they are interchangeable in such constructions as we are getting paid [every other week] /[every two weeks]. – linguisticturn Oct 12 '18 at 16:57
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    @linguisticturn Interesting, indeed - something's happening there that doesn't translate to the copy example. However, I think the "for" is important - getting paid "for every other week" isn't the same as getting paid "for every two weeks". Including the 'for' changes the sense of the paid example to parallel the copy example. – Lawrence Oct 12 '18 at 22:26

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