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Consider the following sentences:

  1. The schema of the A and B buffer are called C and D, respectively.
  2. The schemas of the A and B buffer are called C and D, respectively.
  3. The schemas of the A and B buffers are called C and D, respectively.

The question is whether schema and buffer should be singular or plural. My guess is that all three are correct. One can think of the first and second sentences as reductions of the following one:

The schema of the A buffer and the schema B buffer are called C and D, respectively.

From this perspective, the first and second sentences simply contains ellipses, enabling one to avoid unnecessary repetitions of words.

I would be grateful if somebody could confirm the above reasoning. Thank you!

Regards, Ivan

  • could you give sample sentences that shows that all three format of sentences are grammatically correct? – Archie Azares Jul 5 '16 at 7:23
  • Sorry, but those five sentences given in the original post are such examples. – Ivan Jul 5 '16 at 10:29
  • They are all grammatical. But they all have different meanings. – Lambie Jul 5 '16 at 21:37
  • @Lambie, thanks! Since you say that the first is grammatical, what do you think about the answer below saying that it is ungrammatical? – Ivan Jul 6 '16 at 3:59
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+50

The first sentence is for certain ungrammatical. If we remove the prepositional phrase we are left with

The schema are called C and D, respectively.

This should be

The schemas are called C and D, respectively.

This leaves the question of whether it is "buffer" or "buffers". Let's examine just the sentence's subject:

  1. The schemas of the A and B buffer
  2. The schemas of the A and B buffers

I would parse the first as saying that there is an "A and B buffer" which has several schemas, whereas I would parse the second as saying that there is an "A buffer" and a "B buffer", and between them they have several schemas. Interestingly this ambiguity goes away in the case of

The schemas of the A buffer and the B buffer

While this ambiguity is resolved by the use of "respectively", it makes the sentence somewhat awkward to read, if not ungrammatical. To avoid this ambiguity I would recommend either

The schemas of the A and B buffers are called C and D, respectively.

or

The schemas of the A buffer and the B buffer are called C and D, respectively.

  • Thanks! So you don’t think that the reasoning I gave works for the first sentence, right? Is it because there are some limitations on what is considered to be a valid reduction/ellipsis? – Ivan Jul 6 '16 at 4:01
  • I don't think the reasoning holds up mostly because the end result sounds, if not wrong, at least very unnatural. It may have to do with reducing across a preposition, but I'm afraid I don't have a good rule to back up why it is wrong. – Will Kunkel Jul 8 '16 at 20:40
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The schema of buffer A is C.  The schema of buffer B is D. 

Each of the above statements associates one buffer to one schema.  In all probability, buffer A lives within schema C, and buffer B lives in schema D.  Other interpretations of "of" may be available, depending on context. 

 

Of your examples, only the third makes sense. There are two schemas (or schemata) and two buffers.  In referenced order, each schema is associated with each buffer.  The meaning of "in referenced order" is encapsulated by the word "respectively".

The buffers A and B are (in that order / respectively) associated with the schemata C and D.

Two buffers in the subject.  Two schemata in the object of the preposition in the predicate.  Ordering constraints apply.  Subjects and objects are plural.  Pairings are unique and singular. 

 

Your first sentence makes no sense.  It presents a single buffer named "A and B".  It indicates a single schema called "C and D".  There is nothing that makes the idea of "in that order" make sense.  This is a one-to-one relationship without alternatives, without ordering, without any potential ambiguity. 

Your second sentence makes no sense.  It presents a single buffer named "A and B".  In order, that one buffer has two residences.  How can the order of one (and therefore an unordered) buffer match the order of two residences? 

Your third sentence makes perfect sense.  There are two buffers, one called "A" and another called "B".  There are two schemata, one called "C" and another called "D".  In the given order, "A" is associated with "C" and "B" is associated with "D".  The ordering is as obvious as the matched cardinality. 

  • Thank you! I perfectly agree with this argumentation if we pretend that there are no such things as reductions. Don’t you think that they change the picture? – Ivan Jul 7 '16 at 9:33

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