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Put these balls in the boxes one by one.

I created the sentence above to say that one ball should be put in each box.

After looking up the meaning in some dictionaries, I am afraid that the usage of "one by one" in the sentence may be incorrect. For example, Collins Online Dictionary explains this phrase as follows:

You can use one by one to indicate that people do things or that things happen in sequence, not all at the same time.

It doesn't matter to my sentence when the balls are put.

  • 1
    One ball should be put in each box sounds good as is. – userr2684291 Aug 25 at 14:16
  • 2
    "One ball should be put in each box." This is all you need. "One by one" does not mean that. – Michael Harvey Aug 25 at 14:32
  • You could also replace your first example by ...in the boxes one at a time - but it would still mean the same (during each act of placing a ball in a box you should only put one ball in there, but this says nothing about whether you can or should put any more in that box - either immediately, or some time later if you find you have a few balls left over). – FumbleFingers Aug 25 at 17:17
  • What about "one for each"? – rama9 Aug 26 at 6:02

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