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…this we are doing proactively in order to have a better understanding at coming up with an estimate in case you want to know the effort involved.

Should I go with "efforts" or "effort" in the statement above? I cannot make up my mind; both options look okay to me. Any ideas?

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Thanks for great explanation, everyone. Picking one up as an answer for obvious reasons. – Regmi Jan 7 '13 at 20:46
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would use effort. You need a mass noun there, like work — and indeed, effort in that sentence means the total work involved.

Efforts indicates attempts, which you don't really want to imply, even if they were ultimately successful.

ODO on effort

effort: the result of an attempt:
he was a keen gardener, winning many prizes for his efforts

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As discussed in this forum post, "efforts" is used when

  1. Multiple people work separately on the project, or
  2. One person has been repeatedly unsuccessful but keeps trying.

In your example, neither of the above applies, so I would use "effort".

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I would probably use "efforts," simply because you are referring to a group of people. I am assuming that every member of your group is putting in an individual effort - collectively, they are efforts.

You could use "effort" in the singular, however, if you want to present your organization in a more unified light, talking about the singular effort of the entire group - it takes away the individuality of each member, but it still conveys roughly the same message.

That, however, is a personal choice.

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The choice between effort and efforts is the least of the problems you need to sort out in this sentence. Singular effort is just fine, as it happens, but the rest of the sentence imposes a quite unreasonable burden of interpretation on the reader.

In so far as I understand it all - and it is difficult to do so without the context - I think it might mean something like:

We are taking the initiative in doing this because you may want to have some idea of the effort involved. We hope that what we have done will give us a better understanding of how we might come up with an estimate for you.

Am I on the right lines?

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