Nouns of Noun vs Nouns of Nouns

Example 1: I face different

  • types of financial constraints


  • types of financial constraint

Example 2: Different kinds of reasons vs Different kinds of reason

And here is a generalization version of the examples:

Are there any particular rules as to the plural form of the two nouns in a of-phrase?

Which case would it be in which circumstance: Nouns of Noun vs Nouns of Nouns? And when the first noun is in single form, could the second noun be in plural form?

Thank you very much.

  • Please clarify with examples. For the singular-noun-plus-"of"-plus-plural-noun pattern, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" springs to mind, and (from the same well-known collection) "Vanity of vanities." Are you thinking specifically of such same-noun compounds? If not, I give you "Bachelor of Arts," plus all those terms of venery like gaggle of geese, murder of crows, etc. Commented May 23, 2014 at 18:30
  • Thank you, Brian. I edited my question. I'm just actually wondering, for instance, in example 1 above I did mean that I face 2 financial constraints of different kinds, but which usage is more grammatical to express what I want to say.
    – user76911
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


I think all four possible permutations are available: pl.+"of"+sing., sing.+"of"+sing., pl.+"of"+pl., and sing.+"of"+pl. If "constraint" is conceived as a non-count abstract noun, it may nonetheless operate in various ways, so that there are different types of financial constraint (pl.+"of"+sing.)--just as we may speak of AC and DC as different types of electricity, but the noun electricity can only be non-count. But maybe there is only one type of financial constraint operating in a particular case (sing.+"of"+sing.). If "constraint" is conceived as a count noun, and one regulation or contract provision constitutes one "financial constraint," there might be seventy-one of these constraints total, which might be intelligibly sorted into just five types, and thus you get five types of financial constraints (pl.+"of"+pl.); but in that situation, again, perhaps only one type of financial constraints operates in a given case (sing.+"of"+pl.). Maybe that last sounds and feels a little awkward, admittedly, but I do not think the same can be said of, say, "Carduelis is a genus of finches" (sing.+"of"+pl.).

  • Thank again, @Brian Donovan. So, I think that the plural form of the first noun can more easily be determined. As to the plural form of the second noun, the determinant should be its "qualitative" property. To apply, in the second example, I think it should be "kinds of reason", as there may be more than one reason, but qualitatively they are all for "justifying purpose" in nature. How do you think of this? Another contingent question: in my question, which of the two expressions below is more proper: "the plural form of the two nouns" or "the plural forms of the two nouns"
    – user76911
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 22:53

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