Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

'Different work based on their functions’ should the word 'functions' in this sentence be function because the word 'Different' describes here that the word 'function' is plural.

share|improve this question
    
I think you probably wanted to say "Different types/kinds/forms/aspects of work". –  Damkerng T. May 21 at 0:07
    
Confusing phrase. What is the antecedent of “their”? Is it a word in a previous sentence, maybe such as “employees”? For example: Each employee is assigned different work based on his function. –  curious-proofreader May 21 at 0:09
    
I didn't consider that, thank you. But what if the work only has one function, is the sentence 'different types of work based on their function' or 'functions' –  Stephen Jacob May 21 at 0:11
    
Here 'their' refers to the work. I must however let you know that I have limited knowledge in the English grammar. –  Stephen Jacob May 21 at 0:15
    
I don't have any idea what you're trying to say here. But in general, I don't think you can't use their to refer to work because work is an uncountable noun, and thus singular. –  Peter Shor May 21 at 0:21

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The word 'their' is a plural possessive pronoun (in this case, adjective). You have mentioned in the comments the antecedent of 'their' in the sentence is 'work', a singular noun. In English, possessive adjectives must agree in number with their antecedent, but not necessarily with the noun they modify.

The proper phrase would be 'Different work based on its function(s)'. The word 'its' must be used because 'different' is singular; however, whether or not function should be plural is your decision, and depends on the specific context of the sentence.

But (in this a big note), the original sentence is confusing. If you must ask this question, it signifies the sentence is ambiguous. One of the suggested versions in the comment would be 'Different types of work based on its function/their functions.'

Again, whether you choose 'their functions' or 'its function' is up to you.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.