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  1. #1
    Krehota is offline Newbie
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    Default Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the

    Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

    Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.

  2. #2
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Don't worry about the "their" - look at the structure of the sentence.


    all lives

    last years of life

  3. #3
    Krehota is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Thank you for your answer.
    Now I understand why is "all lives." However, I still don't know why is "life" used after "the last years of."

  4. #4
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    apex2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Quote Originally Posted by Krehota View Post
    Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

    Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.
    'all their lives' means from birth up to now (whenever that is).
    'years of their lives' (life is not strictly correct here). It means the life of each and every one of them. In that context 'life' is not a specific period but a continuing one. Spending the rest of their lives (however long or short that may be).

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    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    1. John wanted to spend the last year of his life in the country.

    2. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last year of their life in the country.

    3. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last year of their lives in the country.

    4. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last years of their life in the country

    5. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last years of their lives in the country.

    All of these are correct; subtle differences.

  6. #6
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Quote Originally Posted by Krehota View Post
    Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

    Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.
    Let me suggest, with no great conviction, that the members of this group, 'many Englishmen' have all done the same thing, 'lived their lives in towns' but that each of them will have differing last years as regards the number of years so here, they are thought of as individuals, 'their life'. Each 'their life' will be different, one could live a week, another 5 years and others much longer.

  7. #7
    Krehota is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Thank you for you comments. But I am still at a loss about this.
    I tried to look into some grammar books and I found that it could be a case of "distributive number." Am I right? Or is the distributive number something completely else?

  8. #8
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    "to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their ___________"


    try inserting another word:

    work
    business
    vocation
    life

  9. #9
    apex2000's Avatar
    apex2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

    Quote Originally Posted by Krehota View Post
    Thank you for you comments. But I am still at a loss about this.
    I tried to look into some grammar books and I found that it could be a case of "distributive number." Am I right? Or is the distributive number something completely else?
    No. Distributive number is not any help to you.
    Have another look at my previous post and let me know what it is there that puzzles you - be specific if possible.

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