I searched on Google for "Personal and Professional Life" versus "Personal and Professional Lives" and the result for each is around 500,000 results. I want to know if the following sentence is correct:

"Solve Challenges in Your Personal and Professional Life".

Is that sentence correct, or should it be "Solve Challenges in Your Personal and Professional Lives" and a brief explanation of which one to choose would be appreciated.

Thank you.

  • 2
    To diminish the confusion: Solve Challenges in the Personal and Professional Dimensions of Your Life. Synonyms for dimension: area, aspect, component, element, facet, sector, etc. – ScotM Mar 30 '15 at 18:23

Well, first of all I'd suggest to use Google Books, because it refers to books published and edited, a much more educated environment than vanilla Google. You'll find that:

"your professional lives" About 13,500 results

"your professional life" About 295,000 results

"your personal and professional lives" About 9,960 results

"your personal and professional life" About 54,200 results

Thus the singular is clearly preferred. There are several reasons:

  • normally you address yourself to an individual, not a group

  • this is especially the case when you want to be convincing: be personal

  • even when speaking to a group, it is your rhetorical/oratorical choice to talk about "your lives," in order to differentiate more among them, or to use the more generic "your life," where "life" might be considered by some to be uncountable, even though it can potentially represent a multitude of lives.

To the latter, "life" is considered by various dictionaries as both countable and uncountable.

Moreover, except in some faiths, we think of each of us as having a single life, and not several incarnations here on earth:-)


This sense of life is that given by RHK Webster's:

  1. a particular aspect of existence: an active sex life.

It doesn't pluralise too idiomatically when two aspects are listed:

?'Solve Challenges in Your Personal and Professional Lives' (and would be ambiguous anyway).


?'Solve Challenges in Your Personal and Professional Life'

implies probably too strongly that your personal/professional life is non-compartmentalisable.

'Solve Challenges in Your Personal Life and your Professional Life'

is probably the best compromise.

  • I have a question, how do you ascertain the 2nd person pronoun is singular or plural in the said phrase? I think the problem would be simplified if we're sure about that. – Andy Semyonov Mar 30 '15 at 20:27
  • It's ambiguous, but since you can use singular address within a group setting (Now, take your small conical flask and ... ), it's best just to go with the more idiomatic (widely used) variant. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 30 '15 at 22:16

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