"You have two choices." Is that logically impossible?

Astro Pen

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Help me out with something that is bugging me.

I'm wondering about the logic of "You have two choices" when presenting a character with two ways to go.

Why? Because I think they have only one choice in that situation.

One way only - "You have no choice."
Two ways - "You have one choice." Between one or two.
Three ways - "You have three choices." Between one and two or two and three and between one and three.
 
Three ways - "You have three choices." Between one and two or two and three and between one and three.
I don't see the logic here. With three options you still only have one decision, and a choice is the act of making a decision.

(I guess if you were to rule out one option first and then choose between the others, you could technically say you made two decisions.)
 
I'd say "You have a choice." If you want to specify how many options are available, say "You have a choice: outcome (a) or outcome (b)."
Having 'two choices' multiplies the outcome to at least four results.
 
Help me out with something that is bugging me.

I'm wondering about the logic of "You have two choices" when presenting a character with two ways to go.

Why? Because I think they have only one choice in that situation.

One way only - "You have no choice."
Two ways - "You have one choice." Between one or two.
Three ways - "You have three choices." Between one and two or two and three and between one and three.

Yes, I agree with you @Astro Pen

Furthermore, I often hear people say something like "Its changed a lot round here since I've been away." To me, that implies they went away, came back, and then things changed.
 
If the super villain said to me "You have one choice." I would take it to mean I had no choice. Such is the state of education through popular culture, sadly.

OTH I could totally see writing a book with a villain who was a super pedantic. You know, the kind, where when they are about to throw the hero into the pit of doom, and the hero says "You are ugly as Frankenstein!" and the villain halts everything to explain the correct usage ("Frankenstein's monster"). And now, the villain would say "You have one choice: Infiltrate the secure location and steal the treasury bonds, or die in lava." and there is a two hour argument when the Hero says. "That's two choices, Frankenstein!"
 
If the super villain said to me "You have one choice." I would take it to mean I had no choice. Such is the state of education through popular culture, sadly.

OTH I could totally see writing a book with a villain who was a super pedantic. You know, the kind, where when they are about to throw the hero into the pit of doom, and the hero says "You are ugly as Frankenstein!" and the villain halts everything to explain the correct usage ("Frankenstein's monster"). And now, the villain would say "You have one choice: Infiltrate the secure location and steal the treasury bonds, or die in lava." and there is a two hour argument when the Hero says. "That's two choices, Frankenstein!"
“Our chief weapons are......”
 
If the super villain said to me "You have one choice." I would take it to mean I had no choice. Such is the state of education through popular culture, sadly.

OTH I could totally see writing a book with a villain who was a super pedantic. You know, the kind, where when they are about to throw the hero into the pit of doom, and the hero says "You are ugly as Frankenstein!" and the villain halts everything to explain the correct usage ("Frankenstein's monster"). And now, the villain would say "You have one choice: Infiltrate the secure location and steal the treasury bonds, or die in lava." and there is a two hour argument when the Hero says. "That's two choices, Frankenstein!"

Sounds like a Mitchell and Webb sketch!
 
While the correct grammar is one choice, many options, I'd say using choice instead of option is sufficiently common usage at this point that pretty much everyone will know what you mean.


Exactly this.

You could say

A. You have a choice of vanilla or strawberry ice cream.

or

B. You have the choice of two options: vanilla or strawberry.

In many respects 'A' is more accurate, as there are more than two options. You could choose neither which is a third option, or you could try to take the vanilla and the strawberry, which is a fourth option.

If I were reading a book and I was told that the protagonist had two options: to carry on or go back home, I wouldn't question it as being inaccurate, even though it may not be grammatically correct. The most important thing thing (as always) is that the reader understands.
 
While the correct grammar is one choice, many options, I'd say using choice instead of option is sufficiently common usage at this point that pretty much everyone will know what you mean.

And you will piss off a lot of people (like me) for whom it is sloppy sloppy sloppy.

If the super villain said to me "You have one choice." I would take it to mean I had no choice. Such is the state of education through popular culture, sadly.

Or you could just write "You have a choice." which means exactly the same thing, is grammatically correct, and doesn't annoy anyone.

Grammar-1.jpg
 
And you will piss off a lot of people (like me) for whom it is sloppy sloppy sloppy.



Or you could just write "You have a choice." which means exactly the same thing, is grammatically correct, and doesn't annoy anyone.

Grammar-1.jpg
That comic strip annoyed me due to the typo (or is it bad grammar) in the first frame, ironically. I couldn't get past that to read the whole thing! :)
 
As previously noted by @Ursa major, choice, like many English words has multiple meanings. It is equally correct to have choice mean the act of choosing as well as the options available to be chosen. "Al's first choice for dinner had been fried chicken, but he had to settle for his second choice, pizza." "Bill had two choices, he could choose to live or he could choose to die."
 
That comic strip annoyed me due to the typo (or is it bad grammar) in the first frame, ironically. I couldn't get past that to read the whole thing! :)

I missed it. Enlighten me. I know there's a typo in panel two (missing " before the word 'alternative'). Are you annoyed by my starting a sentence with 'but' perhaps?

It is equally correct to have choice mean the act of choosing as well as the options available to be chosen. "Al's first choice for dinner had been fried chicken, but he had to settle for his second choice, pizza." "Bill had two choices, he could choose to live or he could choose to die."

First is fine. 'Choice' refers to the things chosen. Al had two alternatives: the chicken and then the pizza. He could chose two things if he wanted but he didn't have two choices until after he had chosen them.

Bill could chose between two options. Life or death. He didn't get two choices. He could only choose once. (Well, unless he chose life - in which case death was still an option he could chose later. Choosing death first would rather limit his room for renegotiation.)

If choice means the act of choosing why don't we say "I choice that one"? or "That's the one I choiced"? "Hurry up choice one; I haven't got all day"? - though as I typed that I realised there are probably parts of London where they do.

A choice is the thing (there's probably some sort of posh grammarian term for this - 'an unquantifiable abstract noun' or something) that is selected/created by the act of choosing. It is a thing. It is not the action. I can make a choice. I can have a choice. But I can't just choice.






This post scores about 7.3 on the Dunning–Kruger scale.
 

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