Which is the correct sentence to use?

  1. Two types of user are identified: . . .
  2. Two types of users are identified: . . .

I would have said the former (#1), but a colleague has suggested the latter (#2). The first one just sounds right to me.

Which is correct (if indeed either of them is)?


  • 3
    +1. That's an interesting question. Hopefully someone will give you a solid answer, one with vetted grammar sources to back it up. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 23:26
  • 2
    Google Books is not the Bible of grammar and usage, but: this ngram suggests that both are used, but the former is currently used more often. As for why, I agree with F.E.
    – Lucky
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 23:47
  • 1
    I'd strongly suggest you seek the info that's in a decent usage dictionary, such as the Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (MWCDEU). My copy of MWCDEU discusses this sort of issue on pages 452-4 of the "kind" entry (it specifically mentions "type" on page 454); you should probably read the whole entry on "kind" to understand the acceptable usages. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 0:04
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth Yes, but there's no good answers on there. So maybe when this one's finished and got a good answer we could close that one and link it to this? Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 0:56
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth I have a feeling that if we keep this open for a while a good answer with refs making exactly your point about usage may well appear ... Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 12:26

4 Answers 4

  • Two types of user are identified.
  • Two types of users are identified.

Both of them are correct sentence. They both can be used in formal and informal style. kinds/sorts/types are followed by both singular or plural nouns. I noticed that "two types of user" is more common in BrE, than AmE; AmE prefers "two types of users".

The following constructions are possible -

i) These/Those kinds/types/sorts of [(singular or plural form of countable noun) or (uncountable noun)]
ii) These/Those kind/type/sort of [(singular or plural form of countable noun) or (uncountable noun)] [INFORMAL]
iii) All/two kinds/types/sorts of [(singular or plural form of countable noun) or (uncountable noun)]
iv) This/That kind/type/sort of [(singular form of countable noun) or (uncountable noun)]
v) This/That kind/type/sort of [(plural form of countable noun)] [Most people think it unacceptable, better be avoided]
vi) This/That kind/type/sort of a singular form of countable noun [INFORMAL]

For details, see below -

When it’s this type of, the word following is normally singular, as in this type of accident/game/garden/sausage. The corresponding plural phrase: these types of is much less common in both American and British English, by a factor of 1:7 in CCAE and 1:10 in the BNC. These types of takes both plural and singular nouns following, as in these types of drama and these types of plays. The compromise form these type of is rare in both databases, and mostly found in speech. Some uses such as these type of things show it as a routine pause filler, but others are deliberate: these type of games/links/specials/ victim-based surveys.

Source - The Cambridge Guide to English Usage by Pam Peters

Partitive constructions -

Both count and uncountable nouns can enter partitive constructions, i.e constructions denoting a part of a whole. such constructions express both quality partition (eg: a kind of paper) and a quantity partition (eg: a piece of paper). Quality partition is expressed by a partitive count noun like kind, sort, or type followed by an of-phrase, eg:

  1. a) a new kind of computer [SINGULAR PARTITIVE]
  2. b) new kinds of computers [PLURAL PARTITIVE]
  3. a) a delicious sort of bread [SINGULAR PARTITIVE]
  4. b) delicious sorts of bread [PLURAL PARTITIVE]
  5. a) another type of research [SINGULAR PARTITIVE]
  6. b) other types of research [PLURAL PARTITIVE]

But in informal context, the following is also acceptable -

These/Those sort/kind/type of parties are dangerous. [INFORMAL]

Source - A Comprehensive Grammar of English Language by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik (Page No. 249 and 764) ENTRY 10.43

The words kind, sort, and type can be troublesome when they are used with plural nouns and modifiers. Sentences like I hate these kind of movies may occur with some frequency but are awkward, and some would say, grammatically incorrect. The Usage Panel frowns upon these usages. In our 2005 survey, 81 percent rejected the use of kind with a plural modifier and plural noun in the sentence Those kind of buildings seem old-fashioned. Fully 88 percent of the Panel found unacceptable the use of kind with a singular modifier and plural noun and verb in That kind of buildings seem old fashioned. In these examples kind would presumably function as a determiner like number in A great number of people have crowded into the lobby. (Note that number here is singular, but the plural verb have agrees with the plural noun people, so number is not really the subject of the sentence). This problem can be avoided by making the phrase entirely singular (as in That kind of movie is always enjoyable) or by revising so that the noun is the plural subject (as in Movies of that kind are always enjoyable). Bear in mind that plural kinds often implies that the phrase refers to a number of different categories of things—more than one genre of movie, for example. Perhaps the best solution is to drop the kind phrase entirely (Those movies are always enjoyable) or to be specific (Those spy movies are always enjoyable).

Source - Usage Note from The American heritage Dictionary Of the English Language

Kind, sort and type are countable nouns.

Source - Macmillan Dictionary

As they are countable noun, after words like all, many, two etc. we use kinds, not kind. We don't say All kind of ..., to make it correct we use All kinds of ...

The article a/an is usually dropped after sort of, kind of and type of, but structures with articles are possible in an informal style:

That's a funny sort of (a) car.
What sort of (a) bird is that?

When we are talking about one sort of thing, we can use sort of, kind of or type of followed by a singular noun.

This sort of car is enormously expensive to run. I'm interested in any new type of development in computer science.

Singular sort of, kind of and type of can also be followed by plural nouns, especially in an informal style:

I'm interested in any new kind of developments.

Plural demonstratives (these and those) can also be used:

Those sort of cars are enormously expensive to run.
Do you smoke those kind of cigarettes?

This structure is often felt to be incorrect, and is usually avoided in a formal style. This can be done by using singular noun (see above), by using plural sorts/kinds/types, or by using structure ...of this/that sort/kind/type:

This sort of car is ...
These kinds of car(s) are ...
Cars of that type are ...

Source - Practical English Usage by Michael Swan

  • I'm currently reading your post! :) . . . But could you add the page numbers/section-identifiers? And maybe the author and date to that grammar source "A Comprehensive Grammar of English Language"? And maybe double check the spellings in the excerpts? (e.g. "But in informal context, the followings are also acceptable") . . . am reading . . . :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:17
  • "These/Those sort/kind/type of parties are dangerous." <== That's a GOOD example! But I'd like to know the exact source of where it is coming from.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:23
  • @F.E Oh that is my sentence :-) I remember it's there in section 10.43. I wrote it this way because the way the book wrote it, it's not possible to write it that way here. My book is rather current, it's 2007 edition :-) Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:23
  • But what book and author is it? And in general, you need to have the exact text in the excerpt (no paraphrase); the paraphrase could be added, but outside the excerpt.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:25
  • @F.E oh sorry I will edit it, but plz not before tomorrow :-) on my phn now. It's the same author Quirk and Leech and others. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:28

The former example, "two types of user are identified", is correct. You should say "This type of user...", or "This color car...", or "This species of tree...", not "This type of users..." or "This color cars...", or "This species of trees." So then, the plural of "type of user" is "types of user".


It is fairly futile to try to decide on logical or patterning grounds between these two variants (as regards their acceptability).

Google Ngrams for type of thing / type of things / types of thing / types of things show that there is a marked preference for the matched pairings (type + thing and types + things); the mismatched pairs are relatively quite rare.

With Google Ngrams for type of user / type of users / types of user / types of users, the matched pairings are again more popular; however, in these examples, the mismatched types of user has a significant following.

I'd say that this shows the idiosyncrasy of choice with these constructions (and the subjectivity displayed by people claiming a broad-brush 'this way is right'). Though as KeithS implies in a previous answer, there may well be the connotation of subsets with 'types of users' etc, avoided with the choice of 'types of user'.

  • Could you not provide us with some info from vetted grammar sources?
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:40
  • Both ACGEL and CGEL point out the anomalous usage These / those kind / type / sort of dogs are dangerous (ACGEL labelling this 'informal'). Since this is the least common of the four variants according to Ngram data, the 'kinds of dog' usage is surely at least as acceptable. (The grammars concentrate on the agreements with determiner and verb, giving examples including eg type of dog / types of dogs. They don't go into the acceptability or otherwise of 'types of dog'.) Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:09
  • This page and this page {both Google} show both "types of dogs" and "types of dog" happily being used by bodies you'd think reasonably literate. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:14
  • Perhaps you could insert excerpts from those grammar sources (and their page numbers) into your answer post, where their info is relevant to the issue at hand (e.g. "These kind of dogs are dangerous" is considered acceptable for informal style by H&P CGEL). I'm interested in seeing at least the page numbers (or section numbers) for the related info in the reference grammars, especially for the 1985 Quirk et al. since it's very hard to find stuff in there via the index.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:20
  • Look up 'type/s of' in the index / lexical index. They're not strictly relevant to OP's actual question. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:31

If someone were to say or write “There are two types of user”, I would paraphrase it as:

There is user A and [there is] user B

However, if faced with the following construction:

There are two types of person
There two types of people

I would naturally opt for the second version. The phrase: There are two has a plural verb; the noun phrase, type of person is singular, and normally the noun agrees with the verb. In the OP's example, user, which is a regular noun, can be made plural by adding the suffix -s.

Two types of users are identified.

In other words, the singular “I can identify one type of user”, is made plural like so: *“I can identify two types of users

  • The subject of the plural verb is types. The other noun, user/users/person/people, is the object of the preposition of. It is not necessary for the object of the preposition to agree with the verb. (Also, thus is already an adverb. It does not take ly.)
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 8:50
  • 1
    @phoog my understanding is that "type of user" is the noun phrase. As for "thus" and "thusly" they're the same I am free to choose which one I prefer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 9:42
  • Sure, it is a noun phrase. Its number is therefore determined by its head: type or types. That doesn't mean its plural can't be "types of user." Consider "attorneys in fact," "cups of coffee," "cities under siege," etc. As for thusly, have you read what the AHD usage panel has to say? ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?id=T5215200
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 10:05
  • @phoog Would you write "There are two types of person"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 15:25
  • In many contexts, I would. I certainly find none of the instances of "types of person" found using Google to sound incorrect, or even awkward, though it is clear that "types of people" is more popular.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 16:31