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It would seem as though this is incorrect, since we each only have one life. Is my intuition correct that it should be everyone else's life and not everyone else's lives?

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Welcome to Stack Overflow! Can you give an example of a sentence where such a phrase might be used? I cannot think of one myself. Just edit the question itself; don't add a comment. – BellevueBob Sep 21 '12 at 0:52
@BobDuell Uh, this isn't Stack Overflow. This is English Language and Usage. Says so right up there. – Mahnax Sep 21 '12 at 0:58
@Mahnax, Bob probably was thinking of this as the ELU annex to Stack Overflow ... by the way, ELU now has more questions on it than SO has in its 70th-most-popular tag, Homework ! – jwpat7 Sep 21 '12 at 1:07
Oops, sorry. I think of all these sites as "Stack Overflow". I'll be more careful next time. – BellevueBob Sep 21 '12 at 1:19

Everyone else's life would be correct. In this case everyone is a singular pronoun. (See this explanation of everyone being singular.) Else is just a determiner used after everyone.

Allow me a digression that I think you might find helpful when thinking about whether to use life or lives in similar sorts of construction. The most memorable explanation of whether to use a plural or singular word that I've ever encountered comes from the book Words Into Type (p. 357). Under the heading and subheadings of Nouns, Number, Singular with a plural possessive there is this clear explanation:

To avoid ambiguity a singular noun is often used with a plural possessive when only one of the things possessed could belong to each individual.

  • Manufacturing helps many people in the smaller cities to earn their living.
  • Forbes knew most of them by their first name.
  • Some of them could not pay their rent.

  • They eyed each other furtively and cursed beneath their breath.


  • Think of the last name of five pupils in the room.
  • The steam line ruptured, causing the death of seven longshoremen.

  • They doubled their efforts to discover the identity of two men who struck a man with their automobile and then fled.

Care must be taken not to apply the rule to the wrong noun.

Wrong: It is pretty clear that the smile on the face of the delegates, whenever they look at each other, is not a sincere one.

Right: ...on the faces of the delegates ... [ Smile is the noun the rule applies to.]

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+1 A concise exposition, with authority, of a position I avoid in my own usage! – StoneyB Sep 21 '12 at 1:41
Unless all the delegates had one face. – Noah Sep 21 '12 at 5:45
@Noah; so ...on the faces of the delegates would clearly mean that, being politicians, they were all two-faced. :) – TimLymington Sep 21 '12 at 11:29

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