I've found this sentence in a dictionary (LDOCE5), so I assume it is correct. But I can't understand why the noun salary is singular although it has a plural form. Could you explain it to me?

The sentence:

Research indicates that over 81% of teachers are dissatisfied with their salary.


As you pointed out there are several similar questions in this topic ( “On their back” or “on their backs”?, “Those who qualify will be awarded a certificate” or “those who qualify will be awarded certificates”?). I found Robusto's answer the most fitting that claims that teachers should have salaries in my sentence. But this answer implies that Robusto's answer is just a rule of thumb. So I can't find the explicit answer in the referred questions, I can only guess.

Is there a general rule that clarifies my sentence and the quoted answers?

marked as duplicate by user140086, Edwin Ashworth, Janus Bahs Jacquet, FumbleFingers, Rory Alsop Dec 29 '16 at 14:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


It should be "salaries." "Salary" would be appropriate if everyone in the group garners the same salary, a situation which I find unlikely.

ADDENDUM: To show the extreme distress I attach to down-votes, I invite the world community to down-vote this answer. And tell your friends and neighbors, too. I shall be greatly disappointed if I fail to garner at least a hundred of the little suckers. Don't fail me!

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    We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – NVZ Dec 29 '16 at 14:13
  • @NVZ \ I do SO very much apologize that I could not expand my answer to the size of a doctoral dissertation. Hey, man, I stated my opinion and gave my reason for it. If you think my answer is inappropriate, attack it on some basis other than its geometry. – Senex Ægypti Parvi Dec 29 '16 at 14:53
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    This doesn't actually give a good answer to the question. Each of the teachers has only one salary, and in cases like this both the singular and the plural are used. – Peter Shor Dec 29 '16 at 15:12
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    Most people would say "everybody should bring their lunch" rather than "everybody should bring their lunches". Google finds five hits for the first sentence, and absolutely none for the second. Whether you should use singular or plural is less clear to me for the OP's example, but I disagree that singular is wrong. – Peter Shor Dec 29 '16 at 15:24
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    The reason that "their" is employed in your sentences is that the author is trying to achieve gender neutrality at the expense of correct number. Although the verb form that the author uses does not show this, surely you will agree that one would say "Everybody is" rather than "Everybody are," showing that the number is singular, and showing that there is something wrong in the use of "their" with "everybody" as its antecedent. – Senex Ægypti Parvi Dec 29 '16 at 15:36

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