[Grammar] their

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Will17

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Hello!

Here, I would like to know if it is better to say "recipe" or "recipes":

Yesterday, I asked my classmates what their favourite recipe was/ recipes were?
(I want to know the one they like most)<= Is this sentence correct, by the way? :lol:.

Thanks

W
 

Barb_D

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Note that a recipe tells you how to make something.

I have a great recipe for sugar cookies. Could you give me your recipe for potato salad?

Are you referring to recipes or to dishes/foods?


If you want to know their absolutely favorite one, then use the singular. If you think they have a group that they like better than any others, use recipes.
 

Will17

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Note that a recipe tells you how to make something.

I have a great recipe for sugar cookies. Could you give me your recipe for potato salad?

Are you referring to recipes or to dishes/foods?


If you want to know their absolutely favorite one, then use the singular. If you think they have a group that they like better than any others, use recipes.

Thank you Barbd. Some weeks ago, I had a similar problem (copy hereunder). The answer I was given is quite clear but I don't find it coherent with yours, can you help me?
Hello,

I've got problems understanding when we use a plural noun with "their".

e.g: In Hungary, village boys used to duck the girls in streams or fountains on Easter Monday. Now they sprinkle the girls with perfume for good luck and good health. The girls then give the boys eggs or invite them to their HOUSE/HOUSES for a meal which the girls themselves prepare and serve".

I would tend to say "houses" but the text says "house". What do you think?

Thanks

Since we seem to be talking about several different girls, who presumably don't live in the same house, "houses" is correct.
 

Barb_D

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There isn't a conflict, because your original question asked about a favorite. You can have one favorite or you can have many in your top level of choices, and collectively, those are your favorites.

However, as to the question you just raised, we see a variation on this question at least once a week, I think.

English is not precise in this.

If you say "to their houses," you could believe they are all very rich and each person has at least two houses. (Not likely, though, is it?)

If you say "to their house," you could believe that they are all from the same giant house, the epitome of communal living. (Not likely, though, is it?)

So you can say it either way, and real-world knowledge will step in and resolve the ambiguity.

There are situations when it could be ambiguous.
The girls brought their favorite dolls. -- Here, you really don't know if each girl had one doll or could have more than one doll. (She might have three "favorites" that were all more favored than the other ten at home.) In those cases, if it's really important, rewrite.
 
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