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Say there are two groups, 5 people in each group. All people in group A earn the same salary X. All people in group B earn the same salary Y (not the same as the people in group A though). Now if I were to form a question trying to find out how much money the people in either group make, how would I phrase it?

1.How much does each person in both groups make?
2.How much does each person in either group make? (Since if i find out how much one person in a group makes, I know how much money everyone in that group makes)
3. How much money do the people in either group make?
4. How much money do the people in both groups make?

Are all these examples grammatically correct? How are they different in terms of meaning?

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  • Do you want to only know the salary of one group, or both groups? – Kevin Sep 30 '20 at 18:38
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It looks as if you know the salaries of all ten people. It's either X or Y, according to which group they belong to. As long as you know X and Y, and which group each individual belongs to, you already know the entire answer to your question.

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  • I think the point was to understand how to phrase the question correctly rather to actually find out the salary. – kandyman Sep 30 '20 at 18:47
  • I think how you phrase a question depends on what information you hope to elicit in the answer. If there is no new information to be had, why ask a question? – Jack O'Flaherty Sep 30 '20 at 19:06
  • Yes but OP doesn't claim to know what X and Y are. – kandyman Sep 30 '20 at 19:27
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    In that case, there's no need to ask what the salary of each person is, Just ask what X and Y are, "What are the salary levels for group A and group B?" I don't say that the questions proposed by the OP would never be used, but the example constructed doesn't show a need for any of them – Jack O'Flaherty Sep 30 '20 at 19:37
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You could make it simple by phrasing it as "How much does Group A earn?" and "How much does Group B earn?". Since you have established the condition that each person in a specific group earns the same, it makes sense. Maybe someone might interpret it as meaning the sum of each individual in Group A, but I doubt it. However, if you feel there is ambiguity and need to be more specific:

  1. How much does each person in both groups make? (clearly asking to identify the individual salary in both groups)

  2. How much does each person in either group make? [could be ambiguous since 'either' might imply that you only need to know the details from one (and not both) groups, for whatever reason].

  3. How much money do the people in either group make? (as with 2, 'either' could be misinterpreted as meaning that you only need information from one group).

  4. How much money do the people in both groups make? (also clearly asking for information from both groups).

For you stated purpose, I would choose Sentence 1 or Sentence 4. But as mentioned, I think they are a little awkward and could be rephrased in a more concise way since the conditions you provided are taken as understood.

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