[Grammar] Questions with which

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Simon Su

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Is this sentence acceptable ?
a. Which animal runs the fastest, lions or tigers?
I mean, do I have to change which animal into which animals, like the following example ?
b. Which animals run the fastest, lions or tigers ?
When which is followed by a plural count noun in a question, does the speaker actually expect more than one answer ?
c. Which animals eat plants and meat ?
ANS: Bears, hedgehogs, Humans, ....
(from Which animals eat plants and meat)
And when which is followed by a singular count noun in a question, the speaker expects just one answer. Therefore, which followed by a singular count noun is grammatical in a. Although or connects two plural count nouns in a, it doesn't matter. Question a expects just one answer from the two choices (lions or tigers). Does anyone know what I am talking about ?
 

Rover_KE

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Welcome to the forums, Simon.

Please ask only one question per thread. You'll get quicker answers that way.

I'll deal with the first question.

The fastest land animal is actually the cheetah, so if you want to know whether lions can run faster than tigers (or vice versa), say 'Which (animal) can run faster – a lion or a tiger?' or 'Which (animals) can run faster – lions or tigers?' (The words in brackets can be omitted.)

Note that you need 'faster', not 'fastest' when comparing two items.

Rover
 

Simon Su

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Dear all
I'm sorry for asking too many questions.
Also, I should have used comparative instead of superlative.
But do you mean that when I use lions or tigers, I have to say which animals?
It seems that when a speaker uses which + animals, he is expecting more than one answer.
And that is contradictory to the mini choice question, A or B, which the speaker wants the listener to pick one choice from the two. :?:
Am I right ?
 

Rover_KE

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But do you mean that when I use lions or tigers, I have to say which animals? Yes, although as I said, 'animals' can (and probably should) be omitted.

It seems that when a speaker uses which + animals, he is expecting more than one answer. No, he isn't; he's expecting a plural answer: 'lions' or 'tigers'.

Point of information for the curious:

According to
this source, lions are the third fastest land animals; tigers don't even make it into the top ten.


​Rover
 

Simon Su

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Thanks for the detailed reply ~ :-D
 

Rover_KE

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Simon, instead of sending your thanks in a separate message, just click the Like button, please.The reason is that it is flagged as a new post, so we think you might have a follow-up question or something to add. Those of us with slow connections and/or old computers have to waste valuable time waiting for it to appear.

Thank you.

Rover
 
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