Why should I use the words "entire group of boys" instead of "entire boys". I know the first one is correct but can't explain why other than it sounds right. I need to explain why as part of a paper.

  • 1
    Maybe because "entire boys" sounds like the boys' whole bodies instead of parts of boys? "Entire" defines the group, not the boys, IMO. – Kristina Lopez Oct 6 '14 at 15:52
  • Another option is "the entirety of the boys." But to me that's kind of awkward and sounds like a PE teacher from the 1970s. And it's not a phrase I would use, without boys/boy's/boys' being a modifier, such as in "the entirety of the boys team." But then you could just say "the entire boys team." But "the entirety of the boys group" seems to have a different stress from "the entire group of boys." – pazzo Oct 6 '14 at 16:21
  • It's just that the construction the entire X, and synonymous alternatives such as the complete X, the whole X, syntactically and logically require a singular X. That's to say it can't always directly replace all of the X, within which X can be either singular or plural. – FumbleFingers Oct 6 '14 at 16:40

Entire means whole, all parts of.

Now, the entire group (of boys) means the whole group (as opposed to a part of the group), whereas entire boys means whole boys (as opposed to parts of boys — arms, legs, heads).

The entire car -> the whole car, tires, seats, engine, etc
The entire group of cars -> the whole group, every single car in the group

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.