Am I saying this correctly?

There are five items in four different colors. One is in red, another is in yellow, another is in green, and the others are in black.

Also, can I say:

Two items are in black, and each of the rest is in red, yellow, and green.

And, can “the” be omitted before “two items”?

  • 1
    This is all over the place. Can you separate out 1 - the questions you want answered, and 2 - the sentences you want us to check on. I fear this is either style advice or too elementary.
    – Mitch
    Aug 1, 2012 at 19:31
  • 1
    We don't generally use "in" with colors, except in very specific cases: "Does this shirt come in green?" but not "*This shirt is in green."
    – Marthaª
    Aug 1, 2012 at 20:31

4 Answers 4


Much less formal, but less wordy: "There are five items in 4 different colors: one red, one yellow, one green, and two black."

  • 1
    +1, but I would probably spell out four for consistency
    – Cameron
    Aug 1, 2012 at 19:34
  • I agree. Good catch.
    – Bob
    Aug 1, 2012 at 19:34
  • 3
    You didn't answer any of the three questions in the question. Aug 1, 2012 at 20:06

The actual answers to your questions are:

No, you can't really say another in yellow and then another in green. A third in green (or conceivably yet another in green) would be possible.

The only way to phrase your second sentence and be understood is There are two black, and one each of red, yellow and green.

The two items and Two items are both possible; unfortunately they mean different things, and we haven't enough information to deduce which is correct.

But, as others have said, it would be much better to rephrase entirely.


The first construction is somewhat long, but correct. The second does not indicate how many items in total.

I would suggest:

Of the five items, two are black, the others red, yellow and green.

  • Unfortunately, that might mean the three are parti-coloured. Aug 2, 2012 at 11:48
  • 1
    Interesting. How about adding "respectively" at the end?
    – bib
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:43

Bob's answer is a good one. In the first case, I would recommend removing the 'in's from the second sentence to make it less wordy. It does lose the parallelism with the first sentence, but I think that's acceptable in this case.

There are five items in four different colors. One is red, another is yellow, 
another is green, and the others are black.

A better structure, in my opinion, works off of the second case:

There are five items in four different colors. Two of the items are black, 
and the three others are yellow, blue, and green, respectively.

I think it's pretty clear what you're trying to say here, i.e. that the three remaining items correspond to the three remaining colours. I mean, if five items are in four colours, and you mention that two of them are black and list three other colours, it's pretty clear that this is the case.

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