Results 1 to 2 of 2
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 146
    #1

    is this a distributive plural question?

    Here is a list of people whose cats are spayed.

    Here is a list of people whose cat is spayed.

    If every person has one cat, which sentence is correct? Or are both correct?
    And does this sentence deal with distributive plurals?

    Thanks,

    Donna

  1. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #2

    Re: is this a distributive plural question?

    If each person has just one cat, then both are correct; if some of the people have more than one, then only the first is correct. In the first sentence, cats is an example of what Quirk at al (1985.768) call the 'distributive plural'. They would use the term 'distributive singular for cat in the second example.

    With the distributive plural, ambiguity is possible - perhaps the people in the first example have more than one cat. While the distributive plural is common in English (The men took off their hats and coats...), we prefer the distributive singular if we want to make it clear that there is only one of each item for each subject.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] distributive singular vs. sentence structure
    By Snappy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 18-Aug-2011, 21:36
  2. [Grammar] Distributive expression
    By Snappy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-May-2010, 16:40
  3. [Grammar] Distributive plural/singular
    By Snappy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 23-Oct-2009, 16:44
  4. [Grammar] Questions about distributive singular
    By Snappy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-Sep-2009, 21:07
  5. Distributive numeral adjectives
    By kiranlegend in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-Apr-2009, 09:36

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •