1

If I have two singular nouns, A and B, that consist of two words (and the second word is shared), should the second word be singular or plural?

For example:

(Both the bio structure and the request structure are singular)

First, the current kernel handles I/O operations using the bio and request structures.

Or

First, the current kernel handles I/O operations using the bio and request structure.

1

1 Answer 1

1

Either one could be correct, and there could be three different meanings. Even though "bio and request" are nouns, they can be used as noun modifiers, or noun adjuncts (Wikipedia). This means they are acting as adjectives in this sentence.

If "bio and request" is a noun modifier phrase, then "the bio and request structures" refers to two structures. One of them is the bio structure and the other is the request structure. "The bio and request structure" would refer to one structure, the bio and request structure.

Additionally, it's possible that "bio and request" is not a noun modifier phrase. "The bio and request structure" could refer to two things, one is the bio and the other is the request structure.

Because it's grammatically ambiguous, we have to infer the meaning. "He was eating the dog and cat food" is similar example. The likely meaning is that he was eating food for dogs and cats. However, it's also possible he was eating a dog, and food for cats.

1
  • 1
    An example for your third meaning (with straightforward adjectives rather than noun adjuncts) would be The first and last letter of the word "noun" are the same. Where both singular letter and plural letters seem perfectly valid to me (plural is a bit more common, but not that much). Jun 1, 2020 at 15:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.