4

What are the differences between:

  1. the inflow and outflow channels

  2. the inflow and the outflow channels

  3. the inflow and ouflow channel

  4. the inflow and the outflow channel

Are they all correct?

In German there are differences between,

  1. der Ein- und Auslaufkanal

  2. der Einlauf- und der Auslaufkanal

  3. die Einlaufkanäle und Auslaufkanäle

The first example talks about one channel, which can used for inflow and outflow, the second about 2 channels (one for each) and the last example talks about more than one of each. However,

  1. der Einlauf- und Auslaufkanal

is ambiguous in my opinion.

How is it in English?

  • 1
    Native German here: What makes you think 5. and 8. are different? IMHO its's just a question of where to place the "cut" for repetitive parts... But feel free to double-check with the guys over at german.stackexchange.com – Stephie Jan 20 '15 at 10:36
  • Maybe you are right. I was thinking of: 'Gemessen wurde im Einlauf- und Auslaufkanal'. I would understand, that there were two measurements, one in the inflow channel and one in the outflow channel. – telemachos Jan 20 '15 at 10:42
2
  1. the inflow and outflow channels

There are two channels. Either one is inflow and one is outflow or they are both inflow/outflow channels.

  1. the inflow and the outflow channels

There are two channels. One is used for inflow and the other is used for outflow.

  1. the inflow and outflow channel

There is one channel. It is used for both inflow and outflow.

  1. the inflow and the outflow channel

There is one outflow channel, and something separate called an 'inflow'.

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  • 1
    Agreed, except that #2 could also be construed (by the same parsing you applied to #4) as: There are multiple outflow channels (2 or more) and something separate called the "inflow". Also, in #1, there could be multiple inflow and/or outflow channels. If not, how would you phrase THAT situation? perhaps "all the inflow and outflow channels? – Brian Hitchcock Jan 20 '15 at 13:48
  • 1
    @BrianHitchcock "The inflow and outflow channels" could certainly refer to more than two channels. Apart from adding a qualifier than 'all', I think context would be more important than grammar for understanding what the speaker means. – Mark Jan 20 '15 at 13:52
1

My interpretation would be:

the inflow and outflow channels

There is more than one channel; the channels are used for inflow and outflow (but we don't know if any channels are dedicated to one particular direction or not).

the inflow and the outflow channels

There is more than one channel; some are inflow channels, some are outflow channels. (There are no bi-directional channels.)

the inflow and outflow channel

There is one channel, used for both inflow and outflow.

the inflow and the outflow channel

there are two channels, one for inflow and one for outflow.

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