Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Birne is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    28
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default plural noun after a preposition

    1. Nobody knows what is inside people's heads/head
    2. We have green hats on our head/heads
    3. They shouldn't go there. There is so cold that their nose/noeses will come off. (everyone has one nose)
    4. Just for a laugh. They will be able to stick a sticker on their head/heads
    5. The hostages were tied so that they couldn't move their hands. (we have two hands :))
    6. The hostages were tied so that they couldn't move their body/bodies.

    Could anybody highlight the correct noun, please?
    I am confused about using plural or singular noun. I don't understand.

    If you could leave a comment clarifying, I will be happy.

    thanks in advance

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    14,727
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    In every case, the referent to the pronoun is plural, so use the plural.

    1. Nobody knows what is inside people's heads/head
    2. We have green hats on our head/heads
    3. They shouldn't go there. There it is so cold that their nose/noses will come off. (everyone has one nose)
    4. Just for a laugh. They will be able to stick a sticker on their head/heads
    5. The hostages were tied so that they couldn't move their hands. (we have two hands :))
    6. The hostages were tied so that they couldn't move their body/bodies.

  3. #3
    Birne is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    28
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    Thank you Mike for your answer.
    But how would you account for a sentence that I have from an Oxford book. The sentence says:
    Some people are wary of using their credit card.

    According to what you say, there should be 'credit cards'?

    PS
    Are you sure I should say: there it is so cold that their noses will come off. and not: there is so cold that...
    Last edited by Birne; 26-May-2013 at 14:28.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    'Cards' would be more natural for most people, but the singular is acceptable.

    The slight problem with all of these is that the singular could be taken as meaning that the people shared one card, and the plural could be taken to mean that each person had more than one card. In all of the sentences in post #2, there is no possible ambiguity with the plural form, though there could be in:

    All the children raised their hands.

    Did each child raise one hand or two? We don't know.

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    14,727
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    I agree with 5jj that there could be confusion with these sentences either way, but I think the confusion is less with the plurals.

    The same is true with "credit cards".

    Yes, it should be "there it is so cold that their noses will come off".
    In that sentence IT is the subject of the sentence. The sentence could be rewritten "It is so cold there that their noses will come off."

  6. #6
    Birne is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    28
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    hello
    Please, let me revive this topic.
    I have come across a sentence:
    "In both these situations, the stress damages the cells in our body or brain and they start to break down."

    Please notice after our is 'body' and 'brain'. We do not share body but the noun is singular.
    Is plural noun 'bodies and brains' also correct?

    thanks for you replies and comments.
    Last edited by Birne; 10-Jun-2013 at 12:26. Reason: a typo

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    Quote Originally Posted by Birne View Post
    Is plural noun 'bodies and brains' also correct?
    Yes, as we have already suggested.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,297
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    Quote Originally Posted by Birne View Post
    But how would you account for a sentence that I have from an Oxford book. The sentence says:
    Some people are wary of using their credit card.
    There's room for flexibility, people may do things a bit differently, and grammatical number and mathematical number are not always the same. In the Oxford examples, it suggests to me that people generally have one credit card. If you use the plural, does that suggest that each person has one card or more than one? Singular and plural are complex and things are not always crystal clear, nor can they always be reduced to absolute rules.

    However, in the Oxford example, what is important is not the number of cards people have, but the fact that some are worried about using them.

  9. #9
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,344
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: plural noun after a preposition

    Just to point this out: This has nothing to do with prepositions, as the thread's title suggests.
    These are called "Distributive plurals" and there are many threads on this topic on just about any ESL forum you can find.
    The only thing that is important is to make sure that there is not ambiguity that would make it hard to understand what the main point is.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Feb-2013, 17:05
  2. [Grammar] When to use a noun with article a and a noun in plural form
    By Ferdie11 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 17-Mar-2011, 21:08
  3. any singular noun or any plural noun?
    By WUKEN in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-Nov-2009, 18:41
  4. any + countable noun = single or plural noun?
    By hangle124 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-Apr-2009, 20:55
  5. preposition + noun
    By Tapies in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 19-Apr-2007, 11:33

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •