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    #1

    one-to-one versus one-to-many relationships

    Is it grammatically correct to say "Passengers holding boarding passes may enter the restricted area" when trying to convey a one-to-one relationship (i.e. one boarding pass per person) or is it more appropriate to say "passengers holding a boarding pass may enter the restricted area"?

    I've googled around and found that the former is the more common usage:
    e.g.
    "people with accounts can..."
    "people with passwords can..."

    But conversation-wise I would tend to go with the latter because it actually sounds better. Could you please explain the difference, thanks.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: one-to-one versus one-to-many relationships

    Hi, and welcome to Using English.

    I see no practical difference between the two. Each person has one boarding pass. It only gets tricky when someone could have many of something, as in "The girls all brought their favorite dolls."

    "A passenger with a boarding pass" is certainly not ambiguous, but "passengers with boarding passes" has no ambiguity when you mix in real-world knowledge.
    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: one-to-one versus one-to-many relationships

    Thanks for your post moderator.

    But just to clarify, would you say that the previous two sentences are commonly accepted and correct in terms of Standard Written English?

    And what about the following examples? Are they identical in meaning? I am getting more search results with the 1st (with a ticket) and the 4th (holding tickets) sentence, if that's any indication of anything.

    (1) "people with a ticket"
    (2) "people with tickets"
    (3) "people holding a ticket"
    (4) "people holding tickets"

    Cheers,

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: one-to-one versus one-to-many relationships

    All four are acceptable.
    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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