As in "The Survey of the American Consumer" or "The state of the American consumer". Why is the phrase singular?

  • 3
    It's meant in the sense of a generic individual. As in "John Q. Public".
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 14:31
  • Note the definite article. "The consumer" refers to a class (consisting of all consumers in general.) Using the plural in this case would have meant referring to the individual consumers.
    – Kris
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 15:03
  • It's the same thing that happens in the sentence the lion is the king of the animals or the elephant is known for its culinary prowess.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 15:10
  • There seems to be some difficulty with the concept of generic noun phrase. There are several kinds, using various articles. Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 2:10
  • Similar question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/140154/…
    – Nemo
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


putting the word 'the' in front of American makes it singular. If you dropped the word 'the' then you could say American consumers.

  • 1
    This doesn't explain anything. Why is this phrase used this way? Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 0:50
  • no it doesn't but it does explain why it is singular instead of plural which is what you asked : "Why is the phrase singular?" Maybe you could be more specific in your question next time.
    – Diana
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 12:16

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