In the sentence below, is "waste" grammatically appropriate because "Category A" is a group of medical waste?

"What treatment methods are used for Ebola or other Category A medical wastes?"

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jun 15 at 2:36

"What treatment methods are used for Ebola or other Category A medical waste?"

The use of the conjunction OR means you would use a singular noun, regardless of any other possibilities, as there is only one category here with an or.

  • French bread
  • sliced bread

*Do you want to serve French or sliced bread at the dinner?*

Breads would not work here. [Yeah, I know you could, if you really wanted to, come up with a plural if there were different kinds of French bread and sliced bread but here they are categories of bread, so please do not.]

Medical waste of the same category (infectious waste) would not take an s.

[Sorry, no reference as this question should probably be on ELL anyway.]

  • You're choosing a noun with a different distribution. Why not '"What treatment methods are used for Ebola or other Category A medical wastes?" to mean "What treatment methods are used for Ebola or the wastes associated with other Category A pathogens?" The 'or' simply indicates that the questioner is asking for an answer referencing one of the pathogens. 'Household waste' has a very different distribution. Analogies using other nouns / attributed nouns don't work here. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 14 at 18:00
  • @EdwinAshworth Because generally medical waste is singular especially when an or conjunction is used for a single category. Major or minor waste. My answer coheres with the OP's question and you are mucking it and me around. – Lambie Jun 14 at 18:13
  • There are 238 000 Google Hits for "medical wastes", some from reference works, some from prestigious bodies such as EPA. / Ebola and Marburg wastes can be seen as different categories. It depends what you're emphasising. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 14 at 18:26
  • @EdwinAshworth "medical and other waste": Google: About 112,000 results (0.25 seconds)||"medical and other wastes: Google: About 36,200 results (0.45 seconds)||and the plural wastes, for medical and other wastes: 7 hits. My main point was about the conjunction or and the single usage as waste in the OP's question refers to a single type: infectious waste or health care waste. – Lambie Jun 14 at 18:32

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