Can one say

a. The children had a book.

instead of

b. The children each had a book.


Many thanks

There is a thread about 'anyone's name' vs. 'anyone's names'. It is an interesting thread, but as 'anyone' is singular, the sentences don't have the same structure as mine.

  • 1
    You can say both. The meanings would need to be understood in context and may be different. But please find any of the many questions about multiple possession. This has been asked many times before in one way or another.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 21:47
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? I can't remember anyone's names/name Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


The first one could mean that several children are all sharing one book.

The second one would mean that each child had their own book, so, if there were four children, we'd expect to see four books.

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