'It was the first or one of the first' + plural?

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bertietheblue

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eg

It was the first or one of the first books to be published

or

It was the first book, or one of the first books, to be published

The first example sounds more natural to me in speech. The second more grammatically correct and so what I'd actually write in more formal English. Any thoughts?
 

corum

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If you like it, take it:
It was the first book, or one of the firsts, to be published.
:cool:
 

Tdol

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I think they're both possible- the first sentence seems to link the two together more so both possibilities are recognised, while the second adds a rider in case someone comes up with a little-known earlier book.
 

bertietheblue

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I think they're both possible- the first sentence seems to link the two together more so both possibilities are recognised, while the second adds a rider in case someone comes up with a little-known earlier book.

So, like me, you're OK with 'the first ... books'? And if so, even in formal English?
 

Raymott

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So, like me, you're OK with 'the first ... books'? And if so, even in formal English?
If you want to write it formally, you could say.
"It was one of the first books, if not the first, to be published."

Your second version sounds like a clumsy and self-conscious edit to avoid the 'book/s' problem, and hence lacks form. Given your choices, I'd go with the first.
 

bertietheblue

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If you want to write it formally, you could say.
"It was one of the first books, if not the first, to be published."

Your second version sounds like a clumsy and self-conscious edit to avoid the 'book/s' problem, and hence lacks form. Given your choices, I'd go with the first.

Thanks. I wasn't interested in how to rewrite the sentence; I was simply seeking confirmation that the 'first ...books' structure was fine - clearly it is, as I suspected. And I agree that the fastidious avoidance of this with the alternative sentence would indeed be clumsy.
 
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