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  1. #1
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    Default Subject and Complement

    What do these mean?
    1. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.
    2. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by jack; 25-Jan-2005 at 11:21.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    What do these mean?
    1. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.
    2. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instruments.
    2. is incorrect. "a", singular in number, modifies "instruments", a plural noun.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    Sorry, I meant:

    What do these mean?
    1. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.
    2. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments.

    I'll be more careful.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    1. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.
    2. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments.
    Oh, I see.

    As you know, 1. and 2. are linking structure, so the subject agrees in number with its subject complement. For example,

    plural noun = plural noun
    singular noun = singular noun

    In 2. the subject and its complement agree in plural number, whereas in 1. the subject and its complement agree distributively, like this,

    They (i.e., each individual hard drive in that group) are a sensitive instrument.

    Compare:

    EX: My family is a sensitive group. (It is a sensitive group)
    EX: My family are a sensitive group. (each individual person in that group)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    1. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.

    How do you know that it doesn't mean all the hard drives are ONE instrument(device)?

    I don't get how it can mean this:
    They (i.e., each individual hard drive in that group) are a sensitive instrument.
    2. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments.
    Each hard drive is a sensitive intrument, how can #1 mean this too? When 'instrument' is singular in #1?

    Eg.:
    2. These cars have a engine. (So this means that all these cars together they have ONE engine?)
    3. These cars have engines. (Does this mean that each car has a engine?)

    I get these ones:
    4. You guys need to go back to your homes. (Each house for one person.)
    5. You guys need to go back to your home. (All those people live together in one house.)

    But I don't get #1, I view it like #5.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by jack; 13-Jan-2005 at 12:37.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    How do you know that it doesn't mean all the hard drives are ONE instrument(device)?
    Language functions on more than one level. Structurally, the subject is morphologically plural (is has -s), so the verb must be plural:

    Hard drives are. . . .

    Semantically though, and given it's a linking structure, the plural noun (Hard drives) is described by the singular subject complement (a sensitive instrument) as having individual units. That's how I know it doesn't mean all the hard drives are being described as one collective unit, one instrument. If that were the case, the sentence would then be ungrammatical, and we'd have to replace 'a instrument' with 'instruments' to make it grammatical.

    2. These cars have an engine. (So this means that all these cars together they have ONE engine?)
    3. These cars have engines. (Does this mean that each car has a engine?)
    Try looking at it this way,

    These cars have a fuel-injected engine/a type of engine that's fuel-injected.

    Hard drives are a sensitive instrument/a type of instrument that's sensitive.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    Semantically though, and given it's a linking structure, the plural noun (Hard drives) is described by the singular subject complement (a sensitive instrument) as having individual units. That's how I know it doesn't mean all the hard drives are being described as one collective unit, one instrument. If that were the case, the sentence would then be ungrammatical, and we'd have to replace 'a instrument' with 'instruments' to make it grammatical.
    How do you know what means what? How do you know when it's incorrect and vice versa? Could you give me an exmaple of a correct one and incorrect one? Thanks.

    What do these mean?
    1. These cars have a engine
    2. These cars have engines.

    I was watching 'I, Robot' and they used #4. Why didn't they use #5? What do they mean?
    3. You guys need to return to your homes.
    4. You guys need to returnto your home.

    What do these mean? What's the point of using #5 vs #6 and vice versa?
    5. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument.
    6. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments.

    7. The residents can bring their own container to the corner of Burke and Earles streets. (This mean all the residents together can bring ONE container right?)
    8. The residents can bring their own containers to the corner of Burke and Earles streets. (This means each resident can bring a container? How come #5 isn't like that? And the meaning is okay?)

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by jack; 16-Jan-2005 at 20:38.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    What do you think 1., 2., 3., and 4. mean?

    As for 7. and 8., please see you recent post.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments


    1. These cars have a engine
    2. These cars have engines.

    I was watching 'I, Robot' and they used #4. Why didn't they use #5? What do they mean?
    3. You guys need to return to your homes.
    4. You guys need to returnto your home.
    What do you think 1., 2., 3., and 4. mean?
    Semantically though, and given it's a linking structure, the plural noun (Hard drives) is described by the singular subject complement (a sensitive instrument) as having individual units.
    I think #1 and #2 two have the same meaning? And same with #3 and #4. What's the point of making it plural vs the singular subject complement?

    Thanks.

    *EDIT:
    I thought about #1 and #2 again. I think #1 one means each car has one engine and #2 means each car has many engines? But how come #3 is plural? #3 means each person need to return to their home? If that's what it means, how come #2 doesn't mean that?
    Last edited by jack; 17-Jan-2005 at 19:33.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Instrument / Instruments

    EX: My family is a sensitive group. (It is a sensitive group)
    EX: My family are a sensitive group. (each individual person in that group)
    What do these mean?
    1. My family is sensitive groups.
    2. My family are sensitive groups.

    They (i.e., each individual hard drive in that group) are a sensitive instrument.
    3. Warning: Hard drives are a sensitive instrument. (This means every hard drive in that group is a sensitive intrument?)
    4. Warning: Hard drives are sensitive instruments. (So this means every hard drive is a sensitive instrument? Hard drives are sensitive in general?)
    Last edited by jack; 19-Jan-2005 at 19:37.

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