On (the) one hand, I want to wrap up everything perfectly. On the other hand, I want to leave some ambiguity to the reader.

What"s the correct/conventional choice? Maybe this is an American/British English issue?



"On the one hand" is clearly a figure of speech.

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On the other hand, "on one hand" can be a literal reference to a person"s hand.

As a native British English speaker, I would always use "on the one hand … on the other hand" in the OP"s context. There is no logic in omitting the first "the" and including the second, but nobody ever says "on other hand" in this idiom (or anywhere else), so use "the" twice.


The idiom in English, regardless of variety, is:On the one hand ||| on the other .

The second hand is optional and this has nothing whatsoever to do with British versus American English at all.

All the dictionaries agree.

Collins Dictionary

Cambridge Dictionary

Merriam Webster

On hand: We have no merchandise on hand.


In most contexts, when contrasting "one" with "the other", the article is not used before "one".

I would class On the one hand and on the one side as idioms.

In the NoW Corpus "On the one hand" has 28822 hits, and "On the one side" 1657, against 2504 examples of "On the one " - (349 of these are "on the one show", and nearly all of these are "On The One Show", so they don"t count).

"On one hand", without "the" has 18297 hits - only about 2/3 as many.


It’s an idiom. Wvantaiduongviet.vn, actually two of them.

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“On the other hand” is often used to preface counterarguments to one’s thought process.

By extension, “On the one hand ... on the other hand ...” is used when one has two conflicting ideas and wishes to clarify them aloud. Example:

On the one hand, I really enjoy pie, but on the other hand, I’m supposed to be on a diet.

Both of these expressions use each hand to represent an opinion, as if weighing the pros and cons of each choice with the hands as the scale.

(Source: I’m a native AmE speaker.)

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