Should the noun position be singular or plural in the following sentence?

You should focus on the position(s) of your lips and tongue pronouncing this sound.

  • See also English Language Learners -- Btw, of course, it would be plural, although singular will work -- think why.
    – Kris
    Mar 2 '16 at 10:00


This is a counter-intuitive, but although you are talking about two [or even three!] things (lips and tongue), you could well choose to use the singular because position means "the placement [of what is being considered] relative to other things", and so can be used to describe the situation as a whole: each thing/assemblage can only have one position at a time. This applies even if you're talking about a set-up involving lots of different things, eg

"The position/s of the chess pieces on the board".

You would be forced to use the plural in cases where the thing or set-up you are discussing changes its position over time and you are bringing this point out, for example:

"Throughout the pronunciation exercise you will move your lips and tongue into lots of different positions, some of which might feel unusual."

  • I think you might like to re-read the sentence once.
    – Kris
    Mar 2 '16 at 10:01
  • @Kris - if your point is that you disagree with my answer, then please write your own answer explaining your position(s). Mar 2 '16 at 10:03
  • You have all the time in the world. Please take your time. Good Luck. And Yes, Sir, the down vote is mine.
    – Kris
    Mar 2 '16 at 10:07
  • I understand that comment even less than i did your first one. Mar 2 '16 at 10:09
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth this edit seems quite opinion based, and adds a lot of extra information which i wouldn't have written. Wouldn't you have been better off writing your own answer? Mar 3 '16 at 13:10

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