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I couldn't find an answer to this question by searching the archive. If it's duplicate please let me know, and I'll remove it.

I was wondeing if "work" (noun) is plural or singular? for example, I want to speak about the "previous work" (meaning previous published papers):

Is it correct to say:

I provide a high-level overview of the previous work, including "their" limitations.

Or I should say:

I provide a high-level overview of the previous work, including "its" limitations.

I also appreciate any suggestion for a more elegant way of saying that there are "niche" in the previous papers, that I'm going to highlight.

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Work can be either singular or plural, and in your context, either is possible - but the pronoun must agree, in either case.

So you can either use

  • I provide a high-level overview of the previous work, including its limitations.

or

  • I provide a high-level overview of the previous works, including their limitations.

In the first case, you refer to the entire body of previous work, whereas in the second, you refer to multiple instances of previous works. The difference is subtle, though, and my initial point stands - I'd say that you can use either, as long as the pronoun is consistent.

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    When "work" is plural, it usually refers to the activity of working, not the products. That's why you say "works" in the second sentence when you refer to multiple products. – Barmar May 1 '14 at 15:52
  • Is it true that, when we are talking about the product, and it is not a work of art or something, only previous research product, using singular "work" is correct? E.g. Several other work have focused on... – user25004 Oct 2 '15 at 15:08
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    oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/work_2 says work is not countable except when it means a book, piece of music, painting, etc. – user25004 Oct 2 '15 at 15:16
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    @jimsung I find my issue relevant enough to this question not to start a duplicate. The issue is that based on the dictionary, your response "Work can be either singular or plural, and in your context, either is possible" seems unconvincing to me. That is why I am asking here, either to get convinced or to convince. Also I think the pronoun used in the question, is to give a concrete indication and highlight of plural or singular form of the noun. The topic summarizes the general underlying question being asked. – user25004 Oct 2 '15 at 15:54
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    The question is really a strong candidate for close-voting on ELU. I just don't like to see inadequate answers given apparent endorsement: it misleads people. @user25004 is right to challenge. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '15 at 16:17
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Work is used for both singular and plural.It cannot be used as works for its plural form.guys don't confuse yourself, it's crystal clear😌 Works only can be used in the third person singular form Ex; he works in a bank.

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    This answer is contradictory, confusing and incorrect. – Mari-Lou A Oct 15 '18 at 3:55
  • Ashraff, this is incorrect. You're confusing the noun and verb forms. "I work" vs "I perform work" and "I perform several works" (e.g. of music). – Chappo Oct 15 '18 at 3:58

protected by Mari-Lou A Oct 15 '18 at 3:53

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