4

ずつ can be used when talking about allotting/diving things evenly (e.g. 飴を2つずつあげる), or having equal numbers of different things (e.g. ネギマとレバーを2本ずつ下さい).

But what about cases where multiple things are combined in a single sentence, and it's not immediately obvious how to clearly express exactly how things are being divided? Such as in the following examples:

  • Please give 2 books to each person
  • Each pair of people will receive 3 points
  • Each person will receive 2 each of apples and oranges (i.e. 2 apples and 2 oranges for each person)

What is the natural way of expressing these?

8

It is not so difficult, if you know how to express "each" in Japanese.

The common way to express "each" is using 「それぞれ(の)」 「[各]{かく}」, or 「ごとに」. By using these words and ordering words correctly, you can remove ambiguity, as follows:

それぞれの人に本を2冊ずつ下さい。 / それぞれの人に本を2冊下さい。
Please give 2 books to each person.

ペアは3ポイントずつ受け取る。 / ペアは3ポイントを受け取る。
Each pair of people will receive 3 points.

それぞれの人がりんごとみかんを2つずつもらう。 / それぞれの人がりんごとみかんをそれぞれ2つもらう。
Each person will receive 2 each of apples and oranges.

Notice that in the first two examples 「ずつ」 is not crucial anymore because 「それぞれ」 or 「各」 is enough to express "each", though 「ずつ」 still helps us properly understanding the meaning of each sentences. In the last example, we have two different "each," so we still have two words for each "each." In the left Japanese sentence 「ずつ」 refers to "each of apples and oranges" and 「それぞれ」 is for "each person."


By the way, in the second example, I used 「ペア」 to express "pair of people." In this case, if we avoid this and stick to 「2人」, it becomes less natural but the following may be possible:

2人ごとに3ポイントが与えられる。

Actually they have a bit different nuances. Using 「ペア」 (or 「組」 etc.) sounds like they are a fixed team, but if we use 「ごとに」 here, it sounds like each pair was chosen just for the purpose of giving 3 points.

  • This certainly provides a clear way of expressing these things. How would the "一人一つずつ" or "一人当て" patterns work? Can we stretch it to say "本を一人2冊ずつ下さい", for example? – CAW Jan 26 '17 at 4:00
  • @CAW Yes, 「本を一人2冊ずつ下さい」 is also a natural way to say "Give 2 books to each person."   In this pattern, 「一人」 has the role of "each person." So 「ずつ」 is actually not necessary, which is similar to the first two examples in my answer. Therefore 「本を一人2冊下さい」 is still fine. – Faily Feely Jan 26 '17 at 4:05

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