I have problems deciding whether I should use singular or plural nouns. For example, which of the following sentences is correct?:

(...) to draw a size comparison between the nose of old and young people (...)

(...) to draw a size comparison between the noses of old and young people (...)

The difficulty arises from the fact that each person only has one nose. When many people are involved, there are noses, one for each individual. If I use nose, I am neglecting the fact that there is a group of noses (those of old and young people), but if I use noses, one could think that a single person may have more than one nose.


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    Hello, baister. What Pranav states below is a good rule of thumb (though there are times when it doesn't hold – you can check the reference here ). '[N]oses sounds much better here. May 23, 2019 at 15:02
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    Only the plural "noses" is possible here. Note that we are talking about plural people here. We can hardly say *"to draw a size comparison between the nose of people". In your example the head should match the oblique.
    – BillJ
    May 23, 2019 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


When referring to multiple individuals or groups, you usually (check answer linked in Edwin Ashworth's comment down below) go with the plural form of the noun that is common to all the individuals or groups. Thus, "noses" would be grammatically correct.

  • Hi, Pranav, and welcome to ELU. I'm afraid I don't agree with your 'always' (which is in any case not supported by, for instance, references from academic works / papers). Please see my answer to a related question here. May 23, 2019 at 14:58
  • Sorry, will edit my answer
    – user348155
    May 23, 2019 at 14:59

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