2

Considering that Sam and his brother are waiting together for a movie to start, and each of them has a sugar candy in their hand, and each of them smiles… what will be the most grammatically correct way to say:

  • Sam and his brother used to wait with a sugar candy in their hand and a smile on their face.

  • Sam and his brother used to wait with sugar candies in their hands and a smile on their face.

  • Sam and his brother used to wait with sugar candies in their hands and smiles on their face.

  • Sam and his brother used to wait with sugar candies in their hands and smiles on their faces.

Tnx!

0

The fact that they are both male makes it simpler.

Barring context that hasn't been provided, I would phrase it in the following way:

Sam and his brother used to wait, each with a sugar candy in his hand and a smile on his face.


From a comment, I was asked what if it were a brother and sister.

If we don't specify that each has a candy in one hand (which the first sentence in the question seems to imply), then the form of the fourth sentence in the question will work:

Sam and his sister used to wait with sugar candies in their hands and smiles on their faces.


If the singular gender-neutral third person is allowed, then the following can be used:

Sam and his sister used to wait, each with a sugar candy in hand and a smile on their face.

Note that we can say "in hand" rather than "in a hand" because there is only a single sugar candy, so it would be held in just one hand.

This, however, is awkward. The use of their face doesn't sound entirely natural.


If we specify one candy and one hand and the singular gender-neutral third person is not allowed, the sentence can be easily reworded if face is dropped:

Sam and his sister used to wait, each with a sugar candy in hand and a smile.


Finally, the sentence can be extended so as not to drop any element:

Sam and his sister used to wait, each with a sugar candy in hand and both with smiles on their faces.

  • Thanks ;-) and what if Sam was waiting with his sister? "Sam and his sister used to wait with a sugar candy in their hand and a smile on their face." - can this one work? Tnx! – Tommy Nov 3 '18 at 0:58
  • @Tommy I have expanded my answer to include several different possibilities. The main point is that if you refer to a single person, you use singular nouns; if you refer to multiple people, you use plural nouns. – Jason Bassford Nov 3 '18 at 2:36
  • Great ;-) Many thanks Jason Bassford! I was wondering, what if "each" is dropped in the below option -- won't it still be assumed? Instead of *** "Sam and his sister used to wait, EACH with a sugar candy in hand and a smile on their face." *** *** this option: "Sam and his sister used to wait with a sugar candy in hand and a smile on their face." – Tommy Nov 3 '18 at 14:24
  • @ommy It would likely be understood, but it would be ambiguous and awkward. In whose hand? And the use of their face makes it sound like they share a face. – Jason Bassford Nov 3 '18 at 14:32
  • Tnx @Jason Bassford, you are the best ;-) – Tommy Nov 3 '18 at 14:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.