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    #1

    The differing use of plurals and singulars in a sentence

    Mr. Baker, the security expert, said: “Israeli agents focus on the travelers’ country of origin, their profession, visas that are stamped in their passports, places they have visited, people they know and the color of their skin. If you say you’re a Renaissance art scholar, they’ll ask you if you know who Titian is.” New York Times (subscription, free)

    Dear all,

    The differing use of plurals and singulars here is confusing me. Could you please offer a solid explanation about it? Thanks.


    LQZ

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The differing use of plurals and singulars in a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by LQZ View Post
    Mr. Baker, the security expert, said: “Israeli agents focus on the travelers’ country of origin (each person has only one), their profession (each person normally declares only one), visas (there may be several) that are stamped in their passports, places they have visited (there may be several), people they know (there may be several) and the color (each person has only one) of their skin. If you say you’re a Renaissance art scholar, they’ll ask you if you know who Titian is.” New York Times (subscription, free)

    The differing use of plurals and singulars here is confusing me. Could you please offer a solid explanation about it? Thanks.

    LQZ
    I have added the 'logical explanations, though passport is technically illogical. in that people normally travel with only one passport.

    Very often, however, in English we use a plural form when other languages use a singular , and almost always with parts of the body:

    They nodded their heads. (so we would normally expect to see skins)

    Standing alone, the following is often heard:

    We asked to see their passports.

    The writer of your text has attempted to be logical, which is why passport (and possibly skins) stand out here as inconsistent.
    Last edited by 5jj; 23-Nov-2010 at 10:03.

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    #3

    Re: The differing use of plurals and singulars in a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I have added the 'logical explanations, though passport is technically illogical. in that people normaally travel with only one passport.

    Very often, however, in English we use a plural form when other languages use a singular , and almost always with parts of the body:

    They nodded their heads. (so we would normally expect to see skins)

    Standing alone, the following is often heard:

    We asked to see their passports.

    The writer of your text has attempted to be logical, which is why passport (and possibly skins) stand out here as inconsistent.
    Thank you for your enlightening reply.

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