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 Sep 18 '14 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 Sep 18 '14 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 Sep 18 '14 at 15:10
  • There seems to be some difficulty with the concept of generic noun phrase. There are several kinds, using various articles. – John Lawler Sep 25 '14 at 2:10
  • Similar question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/140154/… – Nemo Dec 31 '16 at 9:11

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? – curiousdannii Sep 25 '14 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 Sep 25 '14 at 12:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.