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  1. retro's Avatar
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    #1

    plural or singular

    I wonder if the nouns in the following sentences are in the plural or in the singular .

    1. The two students took their life/lives after the school massacre.

    2. Both Sarah and Jim have lived all their life/lives in Florida.

    3. They sharpened their knife/knives.

    I think in the first and second one, though we are talking about two states of being alive, life should be used, because everyone has one life and in #3, knives is the key because people can have more than one knife.

    Any suggestions?

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    #2

    Re: plural or singular

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    I wonder if the nouns in the following sentences are in the plural or in the singular .

    1. The two students took their life/lives after the school massacre.
    '...took their own lives...' two students, two lives

    2. Both Sarah and Jim have lived all their life/lives in Florida.
    Of course we are talking about two lives, but '...have lived all their lives...' sounds like Sarah and Jim had many lives. I would say 'Both Sarah and Jim have lived their whole lives in Florida.'
    3. They sharpened their knife/knives.
    It is theorectically possible for all of them to collectively own one knife, but '...their knives.' is much more likely to corrrectly describe an actual situation.

    I think in the first and second one, though we are talking about two states of being alive, life should be used, because everyone has one life and in #3, knives is the key because people can have more than one knife.

    Any suggestions?
    2006

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