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    #1

    With his left hand/With the left hand

    I have once heard the difference in meaning between the following sentences.
    1. He tossed the ball with his left hand. (= He used his left hand, and not his right hand.)
    2. He tossed the ball with the left hand. (= He used his left hand because he is lefty.)

    Do native speakers strictly distinguish 1. from 2.?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: With his left hand/With the left hand

    I wouldn't say #2.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.


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    #3

    Re: With his left hand/With the left hand

    Hello!

    I would not have any problems with these sentences if they were in simple present tense: He tosses the ball with his/the left hand. In other words he usually uses the left hand when tossing. Thus we can say that he is left-handed. But in the case of the simple past tense sentences the possibility of him being lefty depends on the context in which those sentences occur.
    I'm not a native speaker so it would be interesting to have a native speaker's opinion.
    By the way, I wonder if we can omit determiners his/the in both sentences because we know that he had to use his own hand to toss.

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    #4

    Re: With his left hand/With the left hand

    Thank you everyone for your advice.
    I found the following description in Longman's Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.


    "She throws the ball
    with her left hand [2]
    ?with her left hand [2a]
    One factor which could make [2a] acceptable, and indeed normal, is the interpretation 'she is left-handed'. Similarly:
    She kicks the ball with the left foot (because she is left-footed).
    With such an interpretation, the is normal, but the rule is not absolute."


    My example was in the past tense. On the other hand, the above examples are in the present tense.
    Can I understand that "He tosses the ball with the left hand." is acceptable if he is left-handed?


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    #5

    Re: With his left hand/With the left hand

    "...the possibility of him being lefty depends..."

    ...the possibility of him his being a 'lefty' depends...


    Can I understand that "He tosses the ball with the left hand." is acceptable if he is left-handed?

    Am I to understand that, "He tosses the ball with the his left hand" is acceptable if he is left-handed?

    No. It simply means he used his left hand, not his right. To make it clear, you would have to state that a person is 'left-handed'.

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    #6

    Re: With his left hand/With the left hand

    When you put it in the present tense -- "She throws with her left hand" -- it shows that it's a routine, recurring action. That would be a typical way to talk about a left-handed person.

    You could infer that she is left-handed by reading this. (I suppose you could infer she lost her right arm in an industrial accident but can still play ball because she throws with her left, but that would be a stretch and show you have an odd imagination.)

    I really wouldn't use "the" hand or foot if I was talking about a specific person. If that person was already in mind, I'd say "her" or "his."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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