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Suppose there are three options: "A", "B", and "C", and two people each have to choose one of them. I want to say a sentence like the following:

"They both chose the same option".

As far as I know, "the" is the correct article. But it really bothers me. I am not specifying which option they chose (e.g. "B"), and it could be any of them ("A", "B", or "C"). So I would really like to use the phrase "a same option" to emphasize that we don't know which was chosen. What's the reasoning behind the "the" in this case?

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  • The logic is that there is only one option which is the one that they chose, so we use the definite article 'the'. This still applies whether we know or not which option was chosen. Nov 24, 2023 at 15:56
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    But it doesn't make any logical sense. I can say that "I chose an option". It is also only one of them. I want an equivalent expression when two people do it (and THE choice itself is the same). I get that "the choice" should use "the". But in front of the option should logically be "a", when I am talking about it for the first time and want to emphasize it.
    – Honza
    Nov 24, 2023 at 16:10
  • English does not have to make any 'logical sense'. Nov 24, 2023 at 16:12
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    I was hoping that this would have a satisfactory logical explanation that I just don't see. But thanks
    – Honza
    Nov 24, 2023 at 16:14
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    Sure, you can say I chose an option. but I chose an that John chose implies that one or both of you chose multiple options, but there was only one option chosen by both of you. Whereas I chose the [same] option that John chose strongly implies we each made only one choice (and it was the same choice). Nov 24, 2023 at 17:24

1 Answer 1

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First of all you are correct that the proper sentence is:

"They both chose the same option",

rather than:

"They both chose a same option".

If you want to use the "a" article, you could say:

"They both chose an identical option".

So an interesting question would be, why is it that we use the phrase "the same option" but we use the phrase "an identical option"? The following search in Google:

"the same" vs "a same"

gives the following results (among many, many more):

From ELL Stack Exchange

From ELU Stack Exchange

From elsewhere

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  • So it really boils down to the fact that "same" is simply never used with the indefinite article? Even when logically and grammatically "a same" in some cases should make sense..... (disregarding the rule "same means the same") Anyways, thanks for a satisfactory alternative that says exactly the same and uses "an".
    – Honza
    Nov 24, 2023 at 16:28
  • Before answering your follow-up question about what it "boils down to", have you read all the explanations in all those links? Nov 24, 2023 at 16:33
  • Some of them, but the usual explanation is simply that "same" is definite. Which in my case is simply not logically true when "an identical option" says the same to the letter.
    – Honza
    Nov 24, 2023 at 16:38
  • @Honza I think you're focusing on the meaning and ignoring the grammatical distinction. When they say it's "definite", they're talking about the grammar. The word "identical" is not "definite" in the same way "same" is. I'd like to note that this isn't unique to English, either, some other languages have a similar situation with their word for "same".
    – Dan Getz
    Nov 24, 2023 at 17:45
  • Hmm, so either "same" and "identical" are not synonyms (when used as adjectives). Or there exists a grammatical rule that says that same is definite. Either is weird from my point of view. Maybe to better understand it, does "They both chose the same option" mean exactly the same as "They both chose an identical option"??? If it is the same then "the same" is ambiguous and the "the" got there from an illogical grammatical rule. Otherwise same and identical are not precise synonyms and "same" CANNOT be used to express my desired meaning.
    – Honza
    Nov 24, 2023 at 18:20

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