Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the

Status
Not open for further replies.

Krehota

New member
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
Member Type
Student or Learner
Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the

Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.
 

susiedqq

Key Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Don't worry about the "their" - look at the structure of the sentence.


all lives

last years of life
 

Krehota

New member
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
Member Type
Student or Learner
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Thank you for your answer.
Now I understand why is "all lives." However, I still don't know why is "life" used after "the last years of."
 

apex2000

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2005
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Wales
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.

'all their lives' means from birth up to now (whenever that is).
'years of their lives' (life is not strictly correct here). It means the life of each and every one of them. In that context 'life' is not a specific period but a continuing one. Spending the rest of their lives (however long or short that may be).
 

susiedqq

Key Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

1. John wanted to spend the last year of his life in the country.

2. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last year of their life in the country.

3. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last year of their lives in the country.

4. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last years of their life in the country

5. Mary and Sue wanted to spend the last years of their lives in the country.

All of these are correct; subtle differences.
 

riverkid

Banned
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in the plural form for both?

Many Englishmen firmly believe that statement; and as they grow older many who have lived all their lives in towns begin to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their life in a peaceful country village.

Let me suggest, with no great conviction, that the members of this group, 'many Englishmen' have all done the same thing, 'lived their lives in towns' but that each of them will have differing last years as regards the number of years so here, they are thought of as individuals, 'their life'. Each 'their life' will be different, one could live a week, another 5 years and others much longer.
 

Krehota

New member
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
Member Type
Student or Learner
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Thank you for you comments. But I am still at a loss about this.
I tried to look into some grammar books and I found that it could be a case of "distributive number." Am I right? Or is the distributive number something completely else?
 

susiedqq

Key Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

"to dream of retiring to spend the last years of their ___________"


try inserting another word:

work
business
vocation
life
 

apex2000

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2005
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Wales
Re: Why are "lives" and "life" used in the following sentence when the subject is in

Thank you for you comments. But I am still at a loss about this.
I tried to look into some grammar books and I found that it could be a case of "distributive number." Am I right? Or is the distributive number something completely else?

No. Distributive number is not any help to you.
Have another look at my previous post and let me know what it is there that puzzles you - be specific if possible.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top