Global communications in English
Quick tips

‘On the one hand…’ Make sure there’s a contrast!

One-hand handstandThe paired phrases on the one hand… (but) on the other hand are used in English to present two opposing sides of an argument, or conflicting pieces of evidence. For example:

On the one hand, I’d love another cake. But on the other hand, I need to lose weight.
On the one hand, this book is very good, but on the other hand, it’s hard to read.
On the one hand, we want freedom for our children, but on the other hand, we’re increasingly frightened to let them out.

Although the equivalent phrases in Dutch (aan de ene kant…, aan de andere kant) are also often used to present a contrast, you sometimes find them used to loosely link two items or remarks:

Wij hopen op deze wijze twee doeleinden te bereiken. Aan de ene kant helpt uw gift ons de campagne voort te zetten. Aan de andere kant verzekert de site dat onze organisatie goed te vinden blijft.

In such cases, English would use a different construction, such as not only… but also; first(ly)… second(ly); or simply and. So watch out: make sure that when you use on the one hand… on the other hand in English, you are really using these phrases to express a contrast or opposition.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL