Phrases like "our passport[s]" that refer to an item owned by members of a group (where each individual has one and the group collectively has multiple) are sometimes expressed in plural or singular form. I'm trying to understand when the singular or plural form is appropriate.
- A: We have our passports. (not "our passport")
- B: Each of us has [their/our?] passport. (not "our passports")
Here "our passport[s]" is the direct object of a verb phrase, and whether we use plural is determined by the subject. So does the subject determine which is correct? Not necessarily, because we can create examples where the subject does not matter:
- C: He gives us our passports. / He gives our passports to us.
- D: He gives each of us [their/our?] passport.
in C&D the subject is unrelated, and the plurality is determined by the indirect object. So it seems the indirect object can also influence whether singular or plural is used.
- E: He gives our passports to someone else.
- F: We give each of us [their/our?] passport.
In E neither the group is not mentioned as a whole or as individuals (no "we" or "each of us") and it seems the plural is preferred. In F both "we" and "each of us" are mentioned, and the singular form of passport seems appropriate. So should we default towards "our passports" unless the group is referred to as individuals then we use the singular? Maybe.
But in G below "each of us" in mentioned and the plural is used. And in H "each of us" is not used and the singular seems more appropriate.
- G. He would give a speech on each of our birthdays.
- H. He would give a speech on our birthday[s?].
I'm not really sure how to clearly ask the question, to be honest. But does anyone see where this is going? When referring to an item owned by members of a group, how do we decide to refer to it as plural or singular?
Someone suggested Singular noun objects of plural subjects as being an equivalent question, but it spends more time dealing with whether the possessed object is of the group or of each member of the group (in this case I'm only asking about the later) and I don't think it addresses G or H. Likewise for Do you pluralize the singular possessions of individual members of a plural group? in that it does not seem address G or H.