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    #1

    definition vs. definitions

    Dear Forum Users,

    Suppose I ask my students to define a concept but they fail on the task. Which is the correct form:

    They were not able to finish their definition/definitions?

    Thank you.

    Csika

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    #2

    Re: definition vs. definitions

    There's a potential ambiguity- the singular could suggest they were working together and the plural that they had more than one definition, so I would rewrite it and say that they were unable to finish the task.

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    #3

    Re: definition vs. definitions

    Hi,

    How about this context:

    Whenever I ask my students whether they can define ‘metaphysics’, they most often produce answers like “Of course, I can. Metaphysics is … hm, you know …” (and this is the moment when they realize that they will not be able to finish their definition) or “Sure. Metaphysics is … let me think … metaphysics.”, etc.

    Is 'definition' still an ambiguity here?

    Thank you.

    Csika

    • Member Info
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      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    #4

    Re: definition vs. definitions

    In that context, it sounds fine to me.

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