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  1. #1
    pmrozik is offline Newbie
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    Default the drug trade vs. the drugs trade

    Hi All,

    I've been teaching English for about 5 years now, but sometimes I come across something I just fail to understand. Having been raised in the U.S. (CA), I'm rather accustomed to the English that was used there and at times I'm baffled by other forms and usage.

    There are some things I've come to understand and I am now used to, such as "the government are/have" instead of "the government is/has," but there are still quite a few mysteries yet to be solved.

    A couple of days ago I noticed the following in Cambridge's Proficiency Masterclass book: "...the drugs trade..."

    Now, I'd say "the drug trade" just as I would say a five-year-old car since the word preceding the noun is an adjective.

    Perhaps someone from the UK can explain to me why "the drugs trade" is used in the book. Are both forms okay?

    Thanks in advance.

    Pawel

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    Default Re: the drug trade vs. the drugs trade

    All I can say is that English differs everywhere you go in the world. Some people like to spell colour like that rather than color. As far as "the government are/is...I would say "the government is" because it is similar to saying "my family is." You would never say, "my family are." Watch out for those Latin words that sneak up though, such as data. "The data are" but "the datum is."

    I would say the drug trade, too. However, it is such a subtle difference, I wouldn't worry too much if you see it written another way. It is sort of like "toward" and "towards" in that sense.

  3. #3
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: the drug trade vs. the drugs trade

    The Brits are more innovative when it comes to new structures. American English sticks to ancient norms such as the Germanic noun tendency to compound nouns. E.g. Schornsteinfeger, chimneysweep, boatswain, bookcase, weekend. The norm here has always been to compound nouns in the singular. While German still writes them as single words, they are spoken in AmE as though they were one word. Example: on the weekend (US), vs at the weekend (UK); this indicates they are separately constructed in BrE (cf. at the end of the week, the week's end, the week end).

    So AmE naturally prefers the term "drug trade" whereas the Brits have begun to lose this preference, and will often write "drugs trade" by virtue of common sense, rather than tradition.

  4. #4
    pmrozik is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: the drug trade vs. the drugs trade

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    The Brits are more innovative when it comes to new structures. American English sticks to ancient norms such as the Germanic noun tendency to compound nouns. E.g. Schornsteinfeger, chimneysweep, boatswain, bookcase, weekend. The norm here has always been to compound nouns in the singular. While German still writes them as single words, they are spoken in AmE as though they were one word. Example: on the weekend (US), vs at the weekend (UK); this indicates they are separately constructed in BrE (cf. at the end of the week, the week's end, the week end).

    So AmE naturally prefers the term "drug trade" whereas the Brits have begun to lose this preference, and will often write "drugs trade" by virtue of common sense, rather than tradition.
    Forgive me, but although I fully understand the first paragraph I'm totally lost when it comes to the second one regarding the "drug trade." It seems to ring a bell, but I can't quite grasp it.

  5. #5
    pmrozik is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: the drug trade vs. the drugs trade

    Quote Originally Posted by crf07796 View Post
    All I can say is that English differs everywhere you go in the world. Some people like to spell colour like that rather than color. As far as "the government are/is...I would say "the government is" because it is similar to saying "my family is." You would never say, "my family are." Watch out for those Latin words that sneak up though, such as data. "The data are" but "the datum is."

    I would say the drug trade, too. However, it is such a subtle difference, I wouldn't worry too much if you see it written another way. It is sort of like "toward" and "towards" in that sense.
    Thanks! But I really need to know these kinds of things, the supposedly petty differences do matter. After all, the devil is in the details.

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