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  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    still confusing...

    Dear Expert MikeNewYork,

    From your answers to me about these two sentences

    A How many people can say that their letter was quoted on air.
    B How many people can say that their letters were quoted on air.

    You wrote:
    I agree with TDOL. Because the subject is plural, we use the pronoun "their". That leads to a tendency to pluralize letters. If one wanted to emphasize a single letter, one could use the singular. I would then change "their" to his/her, but many would not.
    Shouldn't I change these sentences??


    1[A] How many people can say that their own mother
    told them they had a shiny oven?


    2[A] How many people can say that their last
    car
    cost more than their first house?

    ------>

    1[B] How many people can say that their own mothers
    told them they have shiny ovens?


    2[B] How many people can say that their last
    cars
    cost more than their first houses?


    but I found that most people use style[A] more than style [B], why???

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    In the first case, it is generally one person, one mother. In British English, we tend to be very relaxed about singular and plural in such cases. I wouldn't mind the singualr or the plural.

  3. #3
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Re: still confusing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeab
    Dear Expert MikeNewYork,

    From your answers to me about these two sentences

    A How many people can say that their letter was quoted on air.
    B How many people can say that their letters were quoted on air.

    You wrote:
    I agree with TDOL. Because the subject is plural, we use the pronoun "their". That leads to a tendency to pluralize letters. If one wanted to emphasize a single letter, one could use the singular. I would then change "their" to his/her, but many would not.
    Shouldn't I change these sentences??


    1[A] How many people can say that their own mother
    told them they had a shiny oven?


    2[A] How many people can say that their last
    car
    cost more than their first house?

    ------>

    1[B] How many people can say that their own mothers
    told them they have shiny ovens?


    2[B] How many people can say that their last
    cars
    cost more than their first houses?


    but I found that most people use style[A] more than style [B], why???
    In the first, I would use the plural "mothers". We are in the plural. People have mothers and ovens. A person has a mother and an oven.

    The second is trickier, because people often do have more than one car or even more than one house. I would change this one to singular.

    How many people can say that his last car cost more than his first house. I would use the male singular unless I knew that I was talking about a woman.

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