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January 07, 2011

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LeAnn

Hello -- I have a question regarding using a singular noun after the plural version of "kinds." For example, would it ever be correct to say "These kinds of situation are problematic"?

I believe this is incorrect in that "kinds" and "situations" should agree in number. I am a speaker of American English, and my British colleagues disagree with me.

Thanks for any input or references you could give.

Virtual Linguist

Hello LeAnn. Thank you for your question. The Macmillan online dictionary (American English) gives as examples "... lots of different kinds of food" and "... all kinds of stuff" ie a singular noun after the plural 'kinds'. Here's the page http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/kind

The Longman online dictionary says that 'these kinds of' can be followed by a singular or plural noun: http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/kind_1

You will also find grammar sites that tell you that this usage is wrong, eg here http://languageandgrammar.com/2008/03/05/this-kind-of-error-is-not-the-same-as-these-sorts-of-errors/

Remember that there is no single authority in the UK or USA that lays down the law for English grammar, so it is very hard to be insistent that one usage is correct. Grammatical rules tend to go in cycles, or fashions.

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