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  1. #1
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    eg

    It was the first or one of the first books to be published

    or

    It was the first book, or one of the first books, to be published

    The first example sounds more natural to me in speech. The second more grammatically correct and so what I'd actually write in more formal English. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    corum is offline Banned
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    Re: 'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    If you like it, take it:
    It was the first book, or one of the firsts, to be published.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: 'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    I think they're both possible- the first sentence seems to link the two together more so both possibilities are recognised, while the second adds a rider in case someone comes up with a little-known earlier book.

  4. #4
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think they're both possible- the first sentence seems to link the two together more so both possibilities are recognised, while the second adds a rider in case someone comes up with a little-known earlier book.
    So, like me, you're OK with 'the first ... books'? And if so, even in formal English?

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: 'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    So, like me, you're OK with 'the first ... books'? And if so, even in formal English?
    If you want to write it formally, you could say.
    "It was one of the first books, if not the first, to be published."

    Your second version sounds like a clumsy and self-conscious edit to avoid the 'book/s' problem, and hence lacks form. Given your choices, I'd go with the first.

  6. #6
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    If you want to write it formally, you could say.
    "It was one of the first books, if not the first, to be published."

    Your second version sounds like a clumsy and self-conscious edit to avoid the 'book/s' problem, and hence lacks form. Given your choices, I'd go with the first.
    Thanks. I wasn't interested in how to rewrite the sentence; I was simply seeking confirmation that the 'first ...books' structure was fine - clearly it is, as I suspected. And I agree that the fastidious avoidance of this with the alternative sentence would indeed be clumsy.

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