What's the difference between these four phrases:

  1. a variety of flowers
  2. varieties of flowers
  3. a variety of flower
  4. varieties of flower

I can't quite distinguish the difference between variety and varieties.

I understand variety as a number of different types of things and it makes me wonder why the plural form varieties even exists.

I would appreciate some insights into this.

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2 Answers 2


Variety – (singular) the state of being varied or diversified: (to give variety to a diet.)

Varieties – (plural) a different form or kind within a general category; sort: (varieties of behavior)


The main difference and a general rule is that whenever “variety” is used it is used with singular “a”, unlike “varieties" where no singular article is used. (For example) “varieties of pastry versus a variety of economic reforms”. Hence you can see a singular vowel “a” with your first example and only the word “varieties” with the second one. Although second sentence would go better with the adjective “Different”. Examples third and fourth are less common and not very grammatical either. So you can instead use 1 and 2.


This refers to the difference between an instance of a flower and a kind of flower.

1 refers to a variety of many, different instances of flowers, eg.

Florists often use a wide variety of flowers when creating an arrangement.

2 and 3 -- I don't think you'd see these used often. While not grammatically incorrect I can't think of an example where either of these phrases would be adequate (or at least, more adequate than one of the other two)

4 is a synonym for different kinds of flowers, though it would be more common to see it as the whole term flower varieties

Botanists pick several varieties of flower to describe.

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