Suppose I want to enumerate several relations between apple and other kinds of fruit, say pear, orange, and peach. Of course, I can say something like:

(1) relation between apple and pear, relation between apple and orange, relation between apple and peach.

But this sounds too verbose. If I instead say something like

(2) relations between apple and pear, orange and peach,

it becomes less clear what relations I am talking about, in particular, the principal relatum apple common to all three relations does not stand out. Is it better to say something like

(3) relations between apple and pear, and orange, and peach?


How about

(4) relations between apple, pear, orange and peach?

  • A medium-sized yet unambiguous version: "... these relations: between apples and pears, between apples and oranges, and between apples and peaches". Aug 3, 2014 at 17:39

4 Answers 4


I agree that relation may not be the right word here. However, I'll leave that issue unaddressed here, and get back to the root of your question (namely, how to structure a sentence that compares one thing to three other things). How about:

A relation between an apple and each of the following: pear, orange, and peach.


The term 'relation' is inappropriate in this context. "Relations" is both too general, and too likely to be misinterpreted as "Sexual relations".

Perhaps you mean

  • How are apples, pears, oranges, and peaches related?
  • What do apples, pears, oranges, and peaches have in common?
  • What are the differences between apples, pears, oranges, and peaches?
  • Compare and contrast apples, pears, oranges, and peaches.


  • How are apples related to each of the following: pears, oranges, and peaches?
  • What do apples have in common with pears, oranges, and peaches?
  • Compare and contrast apples with pears, oranges, and peaches.

In lists like this, it is common to sort the items either alphabetically, or so that similar items are adjacent. If the items are sorted alphabetically, the list would be "apples, oranges, peaches, and pears". One way to sort by similarity would be "apples, pears, peaches, and oranges".

In lists of three or more items, I prefer to include a comma after each item (except the last item). The last comma is before the "and", not after the "and". Some people prefer to omit the comma before the "and". You can look up "Oxford comma" to learn more about this issue.

  • There's nothing wrong with "relations" in this context. While rewriting the sentence can help with clarity, I assume that the questioner is using a simple example, rather than a specific question that needs to be corrected to this extent--I would focus on the grammar here unless we get some feedback that he really wants to know about fruit.
    – Tiercelet
    Sep 30, 2014 at 21:40

How about combining the remaining entities into a single unit? like these three fruits.

  • The only relation between apple and three fruits, namely orange, pear, and peach, is a common alphabet 'a'.

In this construction, you can use any common property for the group, if any, like tropical fruits, citrus fruits or any. If there is none, then simply use something like I used in the above example.

  • I just noticed there is a common 'e' too :) Aug 3, 2014 at 18:38

I would prefer to make it like: relations between apple and pear, orange, peach or relations between apple and pear, orange, and peach

  • Thanks for the answer. The comma ',' between 'orange' and 'and peach' seems to clear a bit.
    – day
    Aug 3, 2014 at 10:30
  • didn't mean this, so fixed, please see. Aug 3, 2014 at 10:35
  • A comma ',' after and feels strange. I have never seen usage like this before.
    – day
    Aug 3, 2014 at 13:49
  • 1
    -1 That final comma is just ridiculous. Aug 3, 2014 at 16:04
  • @FumbleFingers The comma, of course after orange, in regular position, that was a typo Aug 3, 2014 at 21:57

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