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I have a question about grammar. In English, can I say:

I can see you and your husband in both of your children.

Just to express the kids look like both of the parents?

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  • Yes, it's fine. I think I'd prefer I can see both you and your husband in your children, because to me, attaching both to the children slightly alludes to the "counterfactual" alternative that one of the children might not have resembled one of the parents (specifically, that one of the kids might not have looked much like the "father", with possible implications for marital fidelity! :) Jul 13 '21 at 14:10
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    Or, more concisely -- "I can see both of you in your children." Jul 13 '21 at 15:15
  • @FumbleFingers I took the statement to mean that they have two children, and the speaker sees a resemblance between the parents and both of the children. Not that the speaker sees a resemblance between both parents and an unspecified number of children. Where you put the "both" depends on which you mean.
    – Jay
    Jul 13 '21 at 17:12
  • It's fine. Is this a real situation that you faced? Who were you talking to? In real English this would probably not be an issue. The context is rather rare... comparing two (or more?) children with each parent. In natural English there would be a whole dialogue, involving names,
    – James K
    Jul 13 '21 at 21:02
  • @Jay: I can't see that "depends on which you mean" is relevant here. The context looks unambiguous to me, in that there are two parents and two children, and both the children resemble both of their parents. It's just that on purely stylistic grounds we wouldn't normally repeat the word "both" like that, so we're effectively making an arbitrary choice which of the two to "delete", and which to keep. Jul 14 '21 at 11:22
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Yes, that's a perfectly good sentence.

Personally, I would say "I see a resemblance between you and your husband and both your children", or "Both of your children look like you and your husband." "I see you in ..." is potentially a little confusing as on my first reading I took it to mean "inside" and then I had to backtrack and re-read the sentence because that made no sense. But maybe I was just being obtuse.

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It is correct but I can't imagine it actually occurring very often. You are making four different comparisons and this would probably fill up several lines of conversation. In any such context you would know, and use, names.

You know, even though Charlie and Toby don't really look like each other can see some of both you and Oliver in both Charlie, and Toby.

How so?

Well Toby has his father's eyes, of course, but his face shape is the same as yours, it's long, but kind-of heart-shaped, and Charlie has your nose, but his father's hair and the way that Charlie smiles when he's been caught doing something naughty is just like Oliver.

etc. etc.

My point is, this kind of many-to-many comparison doesn't occur naturally (neither in English nor other languages) And when it does, it is expressed naturally in multiple sentences.

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