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  1. #1
    Yoshio is offline Junior Member
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    Smile Singular or Prural

    Hello, I have a question about the use of singular form and plural form.
    I'm not sure which I should use, singular or plural, in the below case.

    "Our teacher told us to write our names on the paper."

    Logically thinking, "us" or "our" is prural and so there should be many people and, of course, names in the above case. However, people usually don't write more than one name on the paper. So it seems to me that the singular form of "name" could be used, too.

    I also think "paper" could be plural because there should be many papers.

    Suppose you're a teacher. Would you say to your students(it's plural), "Raise your hand." or "Raise your hands."?

    I always get confused when I hear this kind of stuff.

    Thank you for your help.

  2. #2
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Singular or Prural

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoshio View Post
    Hello, I have a question about the use of singular form and plural form.
    I'm not sure which I should use, singular or plural, in the below case.

    "Our teacher told us to write our names on the paper."

    Logically thinking, "us" or "our" is prural and so there should be many people and, of course, names in the above case. However, people usually don't write more than one name on the paper. So it seems to me that the singular form of "name" could be used, too.

    I also think "paper" could be plural because there should be many papers.

    Suppose you're a teacher. Would you say to your students(it's plural), "Raise your hand." or "Raise your hands."?

    I always get confused when I hear this kind of stuff.

    Thank you for your help.
    It isn't only you. This issue confuses everyone. Let's look at the two possibilites.

    1. Our teacher told us to write our names on the papers.
    2. Our teacher told us to write our name on the paper.

    If the meaning is intended to be that each student should write his/her name on a single sheet of paper, both of the examples can be confusing. Logic tells us, in both cases, that the students only have one name (although each has a first and last name). But what to do about "paper". Are all the students signing one paper? Or do individual students sign multiple papers?

    The most accurate statement would be in the singular.

    Our teacher told each of us to write his/her name on his/her paper(s).

    But then many would object to having to use both genders or a single-gendered adjective or plural pronouns for a singular use.

    One can eliminate the gender issue with paper/papers by using an article instead of a possessive adjective.

    Our teacher told each of us to write his/her name on a sheet (or the sheets) of paper.

    That is about as good as it gets. The good news is that it won't really matter in most cases. Context will usually clarify the ambiguity.

  3. #3
    Yoshio is offline Junior Member
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    Smile Re: Singular or Prural

    Thank you for your reply, Mike.

    There's one thing I want to make sure.
    If there is only a single paper and "we" wrote our names on the paper,
    Can we say both of the two below,
    "Our teacher told us to write our names on the paper."
    "Our teacher told us to write our name on the paper."

    that is, both in singular and prural form?

    Thank you for your help.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Singular or Prural

    There, I would use 'names'.

  5. #5
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Singular or Prural

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoshio View Post
    Thank you for your reply, Mike.

    There's one thing I want to make sure.
    If there is only a single paper and "we" wrote our names on the paper,
    Can we say both of the two below,
    "Our teacher told us to write our names on the paper."
    "Our teacher told us to write our name on the paper."

    that is, both in singular and prural form?

    Thank you for your help.
    Yes, you could. Of the two, I prefer the plural "names".

  6. #6
    Yoshio is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Singular or Prural

    Thank you for you two.

    Both of you would use the plural form, though you seem to have different oppinions on whether singular form could be used or not in the case.

    So I'd use plural form from now on.

    Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Singular or Prural

    I wouldn't regard the singular as an error, but would never use it.

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