Between <my> finger and <my> thumb.

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marcogaiotto

Senior Member
Italian
How do you hold a pen when you write? Between finger and thumb.

Hello! I'm wondering if "between finger and thumb" is correct (with no article or possessive: example: my finger and my thumb). Thanks a lot!
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Yes, you can say "between your / my finger and your / my thumb" if you want to, but a determiner isn't required. You might use it if the question is really "how do you (in particular ) hold a pen?"
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Grammatically, it's correct, but it's not very helpful since you have eight fingers and two thumbs. ;)
     

    marcogaiotto

    Senior Member
    Italian
    So, I can answer the question both saying "between finger and thumb" and "between my finger and my thumb", can't I?
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    If you do a Google books search you'll see plenty of examples of the use of the phrase without determiners:

    The clavicle, which is subcutaneous, is palpable throughout and its movements during the movements of the upper limb can be felt by holding it between finger and thumb.

    Pull down firmly on the thread without releasing pressure between finger and thumb...

    The needle is held between finger and thumb and the suture is pulled through the tissue until the free...
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The expression "between finger and thumb" is so common that I cannot believe that anybody hearing or reading it would think that anything other than the index finger and the thumb of one hand was intended. Unless, of course, there was some special context that might lead to an unusual meaning.
     

    Henares

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Moreover, you can apply this rule to many English double expressions like “with knife and work”, “arm in arm” etc (Swan, Practical English Usage, 2018, page 142)
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    How do you hold a pen when you write? Between finger and thumb. :tick: (This is the impersonal 'you')

    How do you hold a pen when you write? Between my finger and thumb. :tick: (The question is addressed to you personally)

    How do you hold a pen when you write? Between my finger and my thumb. :tick: (The question is addressed to you personally)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I think "between" answers a "where" question, not a "how" question.

    How do I hold a pen when I write? I hold a pen using my thumb and two fingers.
    Where do I hold a pen when I write? I hold a pen between my thumb and middle finger.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think "between" answers a "where" question, not a "how" question.

    How do I hold a pen when I write? I hold a pen using my thumb and two fingers.
    Where do I hold a pen when I write? I hold a pen between my thumb and middle finger.
    I think that is a quibble. If I answer "Between finger and thumb", that's shorthand for "I use it between finger and thumb".
     
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