I am trying to describe that two desks are arranged side by side or next to each other in direction A while allowing the possibility that something may be located between them. My example is as follows:

Two desks are arranged in direction A.

Does this sentence make sense? I am afraid that using the verb "arrange" alone to describe the positional relation does not make sense, but I don't want to use "align" because this may mean that the two desks are arranged in an exact straight line in direction A.

  • 1
    You'd say (AME) something like, "The two desks sit in a row facing forward." Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 17:59
  • What @FeliniusRex. Note that the distinction you're trying to make between arranged = approximately in line and aligned = exactly in line is completely spurious (there is no such implied difference between the two words). Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 18:13
  • @FumbleFingers Uhm, no. I don't agree with the OP's wrongful distinction. I'm giving him a way to talk about the desks facing a direction without even using arrange. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 18:16
  • @FeliniusRex: I don't understand. Are you disagreeing with me because you think arrange / align do in fact imply approximately / exactly respectively? I don't care whether OP uses the actual word arrange or not, but I think it would be remiss of us not to correct his misconceived distinction between the two words. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 18:24
  • I don't agree that arrange/align imply any such thing. I ignored that issue because it is resolvable by a dictionary search. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


Does this sentence make sense? Well, especially if accompanied by a graphic, the intent is probably understood. I didn't even notice a problem until reading your final paragraph.

I think you want to change at least one of the words involved, though.

  • arranged: This really tells us nothing about the arrangement, by itself (though the picture might). At its best, it suggests that the position of the desks is intentional. If your main point is both desks are turned to point in the same direction, then I'd replace this word with "oriented" or "facing." Note, though, two desks could be "oriented north" and still be miles apart, or one could be two feet behind the other. If you want to say something about their distance and arrangement, you'll need more sentences, or need to rely on the picture. (Note: you're right, "align" can talk about direction, and that it might make implications about the desks' relationship. It might make two different implications, though, without being clear about either. "Two desks are aligned facing north" does mean that you could draw a line through the center of both desks, but that line could run either north-south or east-west (i.e. the desks might be one behind the other, or side by side). It also still says nothing about how close they are together.)
  • direction: I have a hard time imagining how "direction A" would be defined. If we substitute a cardinal (map) direction, or a relative direction, we'd alter the wording a bit: Two desks are facing south. / Two desks are facing forward.

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