# the length of

#### azz

##### Senior Member
Can one say:

a. The triangle the length of whose side is 3 inches is on the right.
a1-The triangle the length of the side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

b. The rectangle the length of whose sides is unknown is on the left.
b1-The rectangle the length of the sides of which is unknown is on the left.

I can understand them, but they are probably not particularly natural. There seems to be too much 'embedding' (I think that is the term).

Many Thanks.

• #### Mahantongo

##### Senior Member
These sentences are not remotely natural.

You might say "on the right is a triangle whose three sides are each 3 inches long", or "... whose hypotenuse is three inches long", or ",,, whose three sides have a total length of 3 inches." (And note that a triangle does not have just one side!!! )

For the rectangle, you could say "On the left is a rectangle whose sides are of unknown length."

#### bennymix

##### Senior Member
a1 and b1 are particularly awkward, odd, and hard to understand, even if, perhaps, technically grammatical.

#### Edinburgher

##### Senior Member
(And note that a triangle does not have just one side!!! )
But it might have just one side that is 3 inches long (I know, I know, whose side and one side both sound as though implying there is only one). But I suppose you could say
The triangle the length of one side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

But really, azz, this is just as bad as your man with the unknown wife. We just don't speak or write like that.

We might say: The triangle with the 3 inch side is on the right, and the rectangle with sides of unknown length is on the left.

#### bennymix

##### Senior Member
I think a. is conceptually flawed, and Ed's final revision doesn't quite do the job.

The triangle with the 3 inch side is on the right....

Perhaps this would work:
The triangle with exactly one 3-inch side is on the right.

Ed's initial proposal is close, but still feels odd because the number of 3-inch sides is not quite clear. (I'm reminded of the thread on stone and wood.)

The triangle the length of one side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

Adding 'exactly' would help.The triangle the length of exactly one side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

This makes sense but is so convoluted as to be unsayable in normal contexts.

#### Edinburgher

##### Senior Member
Ed's final revision doesn't quite do the job.
That rather depends on what the job is. Absent further context, I think it would be OK to assume that the job is to specify which triangle is on the right.
The flaw in the original might not matter, and it might not be necessary to make clear how many 3-inch sides the triangle in question has.

Suppose there are three triangles to choose from, and of all the nine sides only one is 3 inches long. Then there is no problem.

If two (or three) of the nine sides are that length, and both (or all) of them belong to the same triangle, then this version would still do the job, but of course it sounds wrong to say "the triangle with the 3 inch side" when in fact it has two or three 3-inch sides. It would be better then to say "with the 3-inch sides".

If two (or three) of the nine sides are that length, and they are both (all) on different triangles, the description obviously would not work.

If one triangle has one 3-inch side, and one or both of the other triangles have two or more, then this is the case in which your addition of 'exactly' would help.

#### RM1(SS)

##### Senior Member
I think a. is conceptually flawed, and Ed's final revision doesn't quite do the job.

The triangle with the 3 inch side is on the right....

Perhaps this would work:
The triangle with exactly one 3-inch side is on the right.

Ed's initial proposal is close, but still feels odd because the number of 3-inch sides is not quite clear. (I'm reminded of the thread on stone and wood.)

The triangle the length of one side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

Adding 'exactly' would help.The triangle the length of exactly one side of which is 3 inches is on the right.

This makes sense but is so convoluted as to be unsayable in normal contexts.
What's wrong with "the triangle with a one-inch side"?

#### azz

##### Senior Member
Thank you all very much.

Maybe:

The triangle which has a/one side which is 3 inches long is on the right.
The triangle which has a/one three-inch side is on the right.

would work.

Many Thanks.

#### bennymix

##### Senior Member
'What's wrong with "the triangle with a one-inch side"? '

It's not clear if this applies where a triangle has two one-inch sides, even if you bold it, or shout it. You'd have to say, "the triangle with a single one-inch side" or "The triangle with exactly one one-inch side."

#### RM1(SS)

##### Senior Member
If for some reason it was necessary to be that precise, yes. In normal usage, "the triangle with a three-inch side" should be fine.

#### Edinburgher

##### Senior Member
I agree with RM1. It is not normally necessary to be that precise.

Suppose a triangle has two 3-inch sides. Would you answer the question "Does this triangle have a 3-inch side?" with a yes or with a no? I suggest it would have to be yes, though of course it might be more helpful to say "Yes, in fact it has two", but the point is you wouldn't say "No, it has two", would you? That's because "a" doesn't mean "exactly one", it means "at least one" (not always, but here).

So if the purpose of the OP's statement is to say which of a number of triangles is on the right, then saying "the triangle with a 3-inch side" uniquely identifies a triangle if and only if there is exactly one for which the above question can be answered yes.

Only if that is not the case would you need to amend the statement. For example, if there are some triangles with two or three such sides, but only one with one, and that's the one you mean, then you might have to say "the triangle with one 3-inch side".

< Previous | Next >