still confusing...

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


2 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 , why???
 

Tdol

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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. ;-)
 

MikeNewYork

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United States
Current Location
United States
Jeab said:
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 How many people can say that their own mothers
told them they have shiny ovens?


2 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 , 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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