change their life/lives

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joham

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As the town of Santee buried the two dead children last weekend, parents, teachers and counselors were struggling to understand what had turned the baby-faced Williams into a stoned, smirking gunman who had changed their life forever.

The sentence above comes from CAE. Could we say '...who had changed their lives forever' without changing the meaning?

Could I ask native English teachers to help me please? Thank you very much.
 

Anglika

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It's a very neat point.

Generally I would use "changed their lives", but in this case it is the community's life that is changed.
 

vil

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Attention: I'm not a teacher.

Hi joham,

I agree with Anglika’s statement. In your practical example stands the following partial definition:

life = way somebody lives [countable usually singular] the way you live your life, and what you do and experience during it

The way of life of a people, including their attitudes, values, beliefs,etc.

There are two similar examples:

How did it change the soldiers life when they got home from the Vietnam war?

You could see the plural “soldiers” and “they” and singular life (not lives).

How did the Dawns Act changed the life of Native Americans?


life (n) [uncountable and countable] the state of being alive:
Danny was a cheerful little boy who loved life.
A seatbelt could save your life.
No-one has the right to take another's life.
Two firefighters risked their lives to save the children.
Thousands lost their lives (=died) in the earthquake.
There was an explosion which claimed the lives of (=killed) at least 170 miners.
Cuts to the ambulance service could cost lives (=people could die).
Calling 995 for non-medical emergencies could cost lives.
Misuse of the equipment could endanger the lives of staff and students.

Regards.

V.
 
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