6

I hope this question is not too basic.

I recently edited a question and was accused of correcting a phrase that was grammatically correct to a phrase that is now wrong.

The context is:

I have Sodium and Potassium.

This type of element (i.e. elements considered to be metals)...

I changed the second sentence to

This type of elements...

because I thought there are two elements in this context.

Which of the above usage is correct? And Why?

Thanks in advance!

EDIT:

To make my question more obvious, I've made up some more complete examples:

He prepared some French fries and insomnia cookies, assuming that this type of (crispy) snacks would fit my appetite.

I am recently addicted to Triumph of Death and Tessellation; when I listen to this type of (metal) songs, I feel alive.

Is there a trusted source which claims the use of "this type of things" to be ungrammatical?

UPDATE:

Thank you all for your input. But I am more confused now.

While most of the comments seem to agree upon the same rule, some of the answers have different opinions on this. (hence downvoted?)

Could this be a preference then, where the majority of native speakers prefer not to use "this type of things"?

  • 4
    If there's only one type, you should use this type of element. If there's more than one type, you can use these types of elements. – Peter Shor May 12 '15 at 3:06
  • 1
    My advice in the above comment may seem inconsistent, but it's the most common usage. See Ngrams. – Peter Shor May 12 '15 at 3:13
  • 3
    This type of element--safe; These types of elements--safe (but probably not the intended meaning); These types of element--okay, but probably not the intended meaning; These type of elements--possible, but usually felt to be incorrect; This type of elements--ungrammatical. See also: corpus.byu.edu/coca/?c=coca&q=39244302, english.stackexchange.com/q/5539/11482. – Damkerng T. May 12 '15 at 3:14
  • 2
    From reading your post, it sounds like both Sodium and Potassium are members of one type of element. If so, then the original text was fine: "This type of element …" (aside: your version seems a bit awkward, but I don't edit chemistry, so I don't know that register's conventions.) For a vetted grammar source, there's some related info in the 2002 reference grammar CGEL, page 352, section "The these kind of dogs construction", [66], e.g. "[66.i.a] This kind of dog is dangerous." – F.E. May 12 '15 at 5:28
  • 2
    @ThomasHsieh In both of your new examples you have the same issue... the example is wrong. It's a singular type of song or snack... regardless of how many different snacks you have, so the correct statement in both cases is "This type of snack [crispy]" or "This type of song [metal]". – Catija May 12 '15 at 20:12
5

The original version of the sentence was correct:

I have Sodium and Potassium.

This type of element (i.e. elements considered to be metals)...

Sodium and potassium are a single "type of element" (considered to be metal), despite being more than one element, so "element" should be singular.

Even if your list was many longer, it would still be a single "type of element":

Sodium, lithium, potassium, rubidium, cesium and francium are the "alkali metals".

This type of element is defined by ...

If, instead you had:

I have sodium and potassium, which are metals, and helium and neon, which are noble gasses.

This is when you get to pluralize, and you would make both parts plural.

These types of elements...

The two "types" here are "metals" and "noble gasses".

The same is true with your other examples:

He prepared some french fries and insomnia cookies, assuming that this type of (crispy) snacks would fit my appetite.

In this example, there's still only one type of snack... crispy, so this should be written:

He prepared some french fries and insomnia cookies, assuming that this type of snack would fit my appetite.

And:

I am recently addicted to Triumph of Death and Tessellation; when I listen to this type of (metal) songs, I feel alive.

There's only one type of song... metal.

I am recently addicted to Triumph of Death and Tessellation; when I listen to this type of song, I feel alive.

Now, to add to this, it's not uncommon in actual use to find examples with mixed singular and plural forms like your example. Right now, I'd say they're ungrammatical but whether they remain ungrammatical could be considered to be in flux.

For the time being, if you make sure to ask yourself, "How many types are there?", you should be able to be sure to use the correct form.

This earlier question addresses your issue as well:

Types of things vs. types of thing

And here's another one that might help:

“Types of” followed by singular or plural?

  • 1
    +1 I like your reasoning. An on-line resource: dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/…. There is no explicit explanation about singular and plural, but I think the 2nd example: "A fastener is a type of metal button which fits together to join clothes, for example a coat might have fasteners." fits this question :-). – Lucky May 12 '15 at 22:13
  • 1
    I just found the Usage note on this page, which I think is useful: oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/kind. According to the Usage, "The plural of kind often causes difficulty. With this or that, speaking of one kind, use a singular construction: [...] The ungrammatical use 'these kind' rather than 'these kinds' (as in 'these kind of questions are not relevant') has been recorded since the 14th century, and although often encountered today, it should be avoided." – Damkerng T. May 13 '15 at 2:53
  • 1
    @Damkerng: that sounds like an answer to the OP's final question "Is there a trusted source which claims the use of "this type of things" to be ungrammatical?". – Peter Shor May 13 '15 at 13:13
-2

Singular: This type of element; Plural: These elements.

Type or types is not necessary for plural description, since the word itself has shown more than one item.

  • 1
    Just because you have more than one element, it does not mean you have more than one type of element. – Peter Shor May 12 '15 at 3:15
  • It depend on the subject of the phrase, if the focus is on the type of element, then should bring out the details of elements. Example: boundless.com/chemistry/textbooks/boundless-chemistry-textbook/… – Chapati May 12 '15 at 3:22
  • 5
    In the sentence: there are three different types of poems in this anthology: sonnets, ballades, and limericks", you cannot replace "different types of poems" with "poems". And I don't think you can in the OP's example, either. He might not want the phrase to mean "sodium and potassium" (which "these elements" would mean). He might want it to mean "sodium and potassium and rubidium and cesium"). The plural of "this type of element" is not "these elements". – Peter Shor May 12 '15 at 3:36
  • 2
    Agreed: the plural for "this type of element" is "these types of element(s)". – Hellion May 12 '15 at 4:05
-2

In many occasions the words type and class can be used interchangeably.

Type and class are words used in categorizing, grouping or clustering items of similar trait(s).

There are four possible combinations in categorizing an item

  1. (1:1) One class which has only one item.
  2. (1:many) One class which has many items.
  3. (Many:1) Many classes, each having only one item.
  4. (Many:[1 or Many]) Many classes, each having one or more items.

Therefore, these are the possible ways to use the words class, type or category:

  1. This category of a person. (1:1)
  2. This type of a person (1:1)
  3. This type of persons (1:many)
  4. This types of a person (Many:1)
  5. These types of persons (Many:[1 or Many])

Orthogonally, the case of [many:1] should be ignored, and should be rolled into [Many:[1 or Many]].

Frequently, we deliberately wish to be agnostic to the number of items in a class/type. The reason being, when we wish to develop statistical perspectives that are not biased by our foreknowledge of its number of items - even when we think we know there is highly probable only one item in a particular type, we presume the possibility of the type having many items. In such a situation, we would have to say "this type of items".

Similar forgiveness that we deserve from the situation that while we say, "there is one car on the road", we would say "there are no cars on the road".

e.g.,

  • This type of a selfish person should never exist on this planet.
  • The type of houses in the Midwest are often boring and unimaginative, compared to the diverse types of houses in the Northeast.

The one important rule of typing or categorization is defining the trait(s) of similarity (often called characteristics of a class).

The act of boiling up or percolating the characteristic traits out of an item is often called characterization. For example, your IC designer would ask you, "Have you characterized the process yet?".

Or your process planner might ask you, "Have you characterized the performance of the WIP products yet, so that we could price them into our marketing categories?"

Therefore, anyone who says that the word type is redundant has not have sufficient exposure to industrial and taxonomic importance of the word.

Is it the column, the row, the valency, the number of stable valencies, similar ambiguities, the number of isotopes, the number of neutrons, the difference between the number of neutrons and protons, the absence of neutrons, something within their quantum behaviour, or chemical behaviour, etc ?

  • 2
    Do you have a reference for this incredibly complicated system that I am fairly positive no native speaker actually uses? – Peter Shor May 12 '15 at 4:25
  • Are you jealous? – Blessed Geek May 12 '15 at 4:42
  • I'm curious, what is your opinion on This type of houses in the Midwest are often boring and unimaginative, compared to this diverse types of houses in the Northeast? – Damkerng T. May 12 '15 at 4:56
-2

I have Sodium and Potassium.
This type of elements (i.e., elements considered to be metals) …

You have the answer in the explanatory parenthetical: "(i.e., elements considered to be metals)"

"Type" is a collection of elements, as such plural is required.

However,

This type of an element

can work as well, along with "(i.e., an element considered to be a metal.)"

  • 1
    Is this your personal opinion or does this have a trusted reference? Why is closed? – Thomas Hsieh May 12 '15 at 13:52

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.