# "We are giving away 5 pens each to 5 winners" - Each winner will receive how many pens?

English is not my native language. I saw a question on an English learning material and it is confusing to me.

It says

We are giving away 5 pens each to 5 winners.

In the above sentence, how many pens each winner will receive? 5 pens or 1 pen? Logically, I assume it means each winner will receive 1 pen and there are 5 winners?

Does adding the punctuation mark change the meaning of the sentence?

We are giving away 5 pens. Each to 5 winners.

Assume I want to give every winner one pen and there are 5 winners. I took a while to think of how to rewrite the sentence but I couldn't do any better.

We are giving away 1 pen each to 5 winners.

We are giving away 5 pens to 5 winners.

How should the sentence be structured grammatically correct?

• This is a great place to use commas to convey your point. We are giving away 5 pens, each to 5 winners, means 5 pens total are given out. We are giving away 5 pens each, to 5 winners, means 25 pens are given out. Commented May 5, 2021 at 15:28

## 2 Answers

'Five pens each' definitely states that each person receives five. Making it into two sentences makes it meaningless.

'We are giving away 5 pens to 5 winners' is ambiguous.

'We are giving away 1 pen each to 5 winners.' gets your meaning across. You could also say 'Each of five winners will receive a pen.'

• I'm not sure about "definitely"! I'd agree that that is the literal meaning of what they said, but in real-world usage, people are often quite imprecise about the usage of "each", "both", etc in situations like this. I've often heard things like "there are two banners at either end of the race", meaning not that there are two banners at the start and two at the end, which is the literal and logical interpretation of what they said, but really meaning "there are two banners, one at either end of the race". So I wouldn't be surprised if the OP's example actually meant 1 pen to each winner. Commented May 7, 2021 at 17:17
• We are giving away 5 pens each to 5 winners

I believe in this case it's actually not clear how many pens are being given away as the "each" relates to the "We" at the start. This "We" could be any number of people, meaning any number of pens.

"Each of us (We) is (are) giving away 5 pens to 5 winners" is another way I would read this sentence.

• Assume I want to give every winner one pen and there are 5 winners

"We are giving away 1 pen to each of the 5 winners."

• I agree that your interpretation is a valid and logical way of reading what they've written, although it's unlikely to be what is actually meant! Commented May 7, 2021 at 17:14