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Is there a difference between the two sentences?

  1. One apple per box of orange.
  2. One apple per given box of orange.

Moreover, what I wish to say in one sentence is that there is an apple for a box of orange but not necessarily for all boxes of orange. Does the second alternative above imply what I intend to say?

1 Answer 1

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There is no essential difference except that adding "given" insists on the fact that the particular box of oranges doesn't matter, it must still contain an apple. You can even reinforce this idea by adding "any".

  • One apple per any given box of oranges.

It seems, however, that a plural for "orange" is preferable, although from a time not too remote in the past (1980) people have started using a singular (ngram).

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  • Thanks! However, how do I suggest (concisely) that there can be an apple in any given box of oranges but not necessarily in all the boxes.
    – jmach
    Jun 25, 2020 at 9:12
  • @frime You can use the determiner "most" (in most boxes) or if the frequency of finding an apple in a box of oranges is not so great you might say "in certain boxes".
    – LPH
    Jun 25, 2020 at 9:21
  • @frime a given box is "the box that has been given to you as an example" or "previously mentioned" or "as has been described". It is commonly used where the dimensions (or any other quality) of the "given object" are important/restrictive. However, where the dimensions /other quality have been mentioned, "given" tends to be emphatic rather than necessary. A box = "an example of a box of your choice"; "a given box" = an example of a box that someone else will define; any given box = one random box amongst all possible boxes that someone has defined.
    – Greybeard
    Jun 25, 2020 at 11:08
  • @Greybeard It seems to me that what you are driving at is about what I explain: "an example of a box of your choice" is nothing else than "any box that you might pick", that is "there is no particular box having this property but the one you'll choose must have it".
    – LPH
    Jun 25, 2020 at 14:32

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