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Quite often while I'm looking through research articles, I see sentences that start like this one:

The tensile strengths of the composites changed...

I generally change strengths to strength in this case. My thinking is that because "strength" refers to a singular property, rather than multiple different types of tensile strength, I should change it. However, there is a strength associated with each of the composites tested.

Are there any rules that say I shouldn't change the plurality of the subject when it would disagree with the plurality of the object of the prepositional phrase attached to the subject?

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If you'd be happy with The relative tensile strengths of the composites changed ... (and you would obviously need the plural there), why be unhappy with the countification in your example? The singular is not wrong (though it could be confusing if the composites are glued together as a super-composite!) - but the following is obviously correct: The tensile strength of each of the composites changed... – Edwin Ashworth Feb 7 '13 at 20:53

It's a fine point, and I doubt many would even notice if OP got it "wrong", but consider...

1: The age of the children was unknown.
2: The ages of the children were unknown.

I think #1 would often (perhaps, usually) be taken to imply the children were all of the same age, where #2 strongly implies a variety of ages. But from OP's perspective, age is a "singular property".

Obviously there are multiple composites, with different tensile strengths. So if OP wants to play strictly by the "rules", he should pluralise strengths.

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