Reading the following articles on The New York Times, I observe that the journalists use the phrase "On one hand" through their pieces.

Just after having read in those article that phrase, I expected to find afterwards its counterpart counterpoint "On the other hand". But neither I found.

So, the question is: Is it okay English or good English style to use in a piece "On one hand" without using subsequently its counterpart counterpoint "On the other hand" in the same piece.

Could the lack of "On the other hand", after having read "One one hand", confuse the English reader?

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    As a general rule, if the NYT does it, it's usually acceptable. Oh, but I see that these are not NYT articles they are from somebody's blog and at least in the first case the usage is not typical. You are correct I expect it to be followed by a counterpoint of some sort.
    – Jim
    Mar 16 '13 at 4:28

“Could the lack of "On the other hand" after having read "One one hand" confuse the English reader?”

Starting out with “On one hand” and failing to later offer an alternative via “on the other hand” is evidence of bad writing and sloppy work by the authors and editors of those articles. However, I suspect that many readers don't notice the missing alternative; apparently even the authors and editors didn't notice the problem.

If the missing alternative isn't noticed – that is, if the introductory phrase “On one hand” drops from view as so many noise words do – then the reader doesn't get confused. But a more-careful reader may have problems!


Good question! Very observant of you to notice this little oddity.

What is going on is that "on one hand" is meant to convey that there are two opposing issues that are closely related. The phrase is being correctly used so long as one mentions at least two sides of an issue. It would be highly odd, for instance, to say "On one hand, I hate ice cream!"...and say nothing else. But saying "on one hand I hate ice cream, but everyone else loves it so much" would be fine.

In both examples they use words like "but" and "and yet" to reference what is "on the other hand" - you aren't required to use the phrases in verbatim pairs. "On the other hand" thus acts as a linguistic shorthand.


No, it's not confusing when the words "on the other hand" is missing.

What would be confusing is if the counterpoint were missing entirely. And in both of the articles you link to, the counterpoint isn't missing; it's simply introduced with different words. This is not uncommon, and I don't consider it an error.

Is it good style to introduce the counterpoint with that specific phrase? Arguably, but it's never been obligatory, and as a reader you shouldn't be confused if it's phrased another way.

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