We are losing our abilty/abilities to write.

Abilities is 100% a word. True, it can be viewed as a shared thing in that we all have the one ability. But I think you could also say that it can be viewed in plural in that each person's ability is very different. Will either work? What is this disagreement called (technical name)?

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    Why don't subjective complements ever satisfy? I ask only out of curiosity, since there isn't a subjective complement in your sentence. "Our ability" (or "our abilities") is the direct object of the verb to lose, in the present progressive. (I'm assuming here that "loosing" is just a typo for "losing.")
    – deadrat
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 6:47
  • "The ability to write" is one ability. You're all losing the same ability. Use the singular. Even if either form is grammatically correct, the singular is more natural and logical. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure what the technical name is, but you're right. Technically either option will work, in the same way that "We have lost our power" and "We have lost our powers" are both right.

However, the inclusion of 'to write' makes it questionable when listening to. Since 'abilities' imply that the abilities are all different, by ascribing a singular purpose to them you make the listener wonder if there has been a mistake.

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    Superman and Spider-Man might say that they've lost their powers. But if you're all talking about everyone losing the same power, use the singular. "The statute of limitations has run, so we've lost the power to sue the company." Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 14:56
  • You're right, if the powers mentioned are the same for everyone. However if we were talking about the superhero community, I could say "everyone lost their powers". It's a question of whether the powers being mentioned are different enough.
    – hrishioa
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 16:59
  • I think that's what I said. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 18:46
  • Ah. My mistake.
    – hrishioa
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 21:23

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