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Are the phrases skill set and skill sets both correct?

I recognize that skill is an adjective and thus is always skill. Also set represents a plural concept, so some may argue that sets is redundant. As I see it, set implies a single set of related skills whereas sets can be taken to mean multiple sets of skills around different concentrations.

Thoughts?

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Exactly so. You can have several sets of related skills (skills in both cookery and karate, for example). –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 17:14
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Skill is a noun, not an adjective. However in that phrase it is used as a noun adjunct, so it serves as an adjective.

Aside from that, I agree entirely. "Well, that matches my skill set" and "The two jobs need completely different skill sets" being valid singular and plural uses, respectively.

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Thanks for the answer, and also the clarification between adjective and noun adjunct. –  Samuel Neff Jan 15 '13 at 21:43
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In reference to all of one's skills, the term 'skill set' includes all of a person's skills with none left out of the fold or on the sidelines. But if we wanted to convey a breakdown of skills into different areas and components, the term 'multiple' can be used to more clearly convey a plurality of sets, as in 'multiple skill sets'. In this instance, 'sets' is plural.

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