Student or Learner
What is better?
Itís not their business. They should not stick their nose(s) into (to) everything.
For example, you can say "their nose" in Russian. And that doesn't suggest that group of people share one nose. More than that: you cannot say "their noses" in Russian. It would be poor Russian.
I searched the Internet and realized that people speak the same way in English (not always, but it happens very often).
Why do tennis players hold their hand up when they hit a net cord point and win the point?
It doesn't suggest that all tennis players share one hand. Does it?
1. "...stick their noses into..." means that they all interfere into ..., it is not hypothetical (some things are hypothetical such as introductions...), so we use "noses" here.
2. I think all "mouth", "heart" in your sentences should be "mouths", "hearts" (their hearts are ...).
3. About "hand", I think the sentence (in your last post) is a question about tennis, "their hand" is abstract , hypothetical (there aren't some people with their hands lifted at the same time), so using "hand" here is correct to me.
That's my own thoughts.
Thank you very much !
Last edited by crazYgeeK; 03-Aug-2010 at 04:15.
I have a context:
T: Today I want to talk about elephants. You do know that their nose (if using "noses" here, I'm afraid that an elephant has two noses at least) can move and is very strong to wrench leaves, branches for meal.
Hope some teachers help us !
Thank you very much !
(1) I have bad news: there is no one rule that you can use for every
(2) If there were a rule, it might say this:
Say what most native speakers say. And if you want to know what
most native speakers say, you must read, read, read; you must listen
very carefully when watching English-language films and TV.
(3) Here are a few things that I have learned and wish to share:
(a) English speakers generally prefer the plural.
(b) In many other languages, speakers prefer the singular.
(c) This construction (kind of sentence) is called the distributive
plural. When you get time, google it. You will find many articles that
will keep you busy for weeks or months!!!
(d) Mr. Michael Swan's book says:
Plural forms are almost always used in this case with possessives:
Tell the children to blow their noses. (Mr. Swan says that nose is not
Six people had lost their lives in the accident.
(e) Mr. L.G. Alexander's book says:
Sometimes the reference is clearly singular or plural:
Most of us have experienced sorrow in our lives.
(f) Professor Quirk emphasizes three points:
(i) Sometimes either the singular/plural is correct:
The exercise was not good for their back(s).
The students raise their hand(s).
Pronouns agree with their antecedent(s).
Their noses need to be wiped/ their nose needs to be wiped.
All the children have their own bicycle(s) . [With this last example, the
professor says that the plural is "preferred."]
(ii) Sometimes the meaning is definitely singular:
The teacher asked the students to name their favorite sport. (Each
student was asked to name his/her one favorite sport.)
All good teachers study their subject carefully. (Each teacher studies
his/her one subject carefully.)
(iii) This last point is very difficult. The professor says that native
speakers feel more comfortable using the singular with idioms:
We are keeping an open mind. (idiom to keep an open mind. = to listen
to all opinions before making a decision.)
They cannot put their finger on it. (idiom put one's finger on something =
to explain something exactly.)
(g) There are a few people who have suggested an interesting
idea: Use the singular if you are picturing in your mind some people
doing something at different times; use the plural if you are picturing them
doing something at the same time.
(i) Your first sentence is They should not stick their nose(s) into
everything. What do you picture in your mind? Do you picture them all
doing that at the same time? If so, then I guess that noses is "correct"
-- if you accept that "picture" idea. But if you picture them doing it
at different times, then nose would be "correct."
(ii) Your second sentence is These people draw near to me with their mouth,
And honor me with their lips [here it is necessary to say lips because
we all have two lips], But their heart is far from me. The use of mouth
and heart seems to be correct if you accept the "picture" idea. That is,
Jesus is talking about people doing that at different times and on different