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By constructing the sentence

Most Hungarians have a good English accent

I'm trying to say that most Hungarians can speak English well, without a strong accent. Now I understand that 'Most Hungarians' is a plural subject, so should the 'good English accent' agree with the plural subject? However, I'm not trying to say that each of them has their own distinct 'good English accents', I'm trying to say that they have a single English accent that is perceived as good by the general public. That is why I'm inclined to say 'a good English accent'.

Which one is grammatically correct?

Most Hungarians have a good English accent

or

Most Hungarians have good English accents

Another example that is still along the lines of the main question and also keeps me up at night is when I'm trying to say

Those three movies are a masterpiece.

I'm referring to the three movies as three separate movies, but I want to say that in general, they are a masterpiece. Or should I say, 'masterpieces'?

Am I wrong and just forcing a concept from my first language that just simply doesn't exist in English?

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  • Is it really the case that having a good English accent implies that they're speaking English? I would interpret that as speaking Hungarian with an English accent. A good one, to be sure. (-:
    – Jim Mack
    Jul 15, 2022 at 12:12
  • I think there may be a problem with your question. "Most" means "more than half," and "More than half of all Hungarians have a good English accent" requires that more than half of all Hungarians speak English, so many more the fraction who speak it well enough to have a good accent is also more than half of all Hungarians. If that's truly what you mean, fine, but it's a dubious claim, so I'm not sure it is, thus this comment. If it isn't, consider rewording your question, like maybe changing "most" to "many," which still means a large amount but without going so far as meaning more than half. Jul 15, 2022 at 17:07

2 Answers 2

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I would say this is more of a context question rather than a grammatical one.

The sentence “Most Hungarians have a good English accent” is correct. Although the subject is plural, they all have the exact same accent. Therefore, you don’t need to say “have good accents.”

However, the sentence “Those three movies are a masterpiece” is incorrect. That is because they are masterpieces in their own way. They all might be masterpieces, but they are not the exact same masterpiece if that makes sense. Therefore, the correct sentence should be “Those three movies are masterpieces.”

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  • On the other hand, since there are a quite a few regional English accents, "Most Hungarians have good English accents" is also correct, since they could be Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands, East Anglian, London, Sussex, Somerset...
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 15, 2022 at 11:24
  • It is correct; however, he did say in the question that he meant they all have the same accent. Jul 15, 2022 at 11:37
  • 1
    If you say "Most people who live in Minnesota have a warm winter coat," you are not saying that they have the same warm winter coat. (Although you are correct that it should be masterpieces.) Jul 15, 2022 at 12:19
  • You are right. That is why I took it as a matter of context. Jul 15, 2022 at 12:40
  • Peter's example is one of the things why I'm led to believe that the former example on the main post makes more sense. Although thank you for pointing out that the context is what I should've paid more attention to for these particular examples.
    – arteezy
    Jul 15, 2022 at 16:56
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Master Piece

Meaning 1: The most outstanding work of a creative artist or craftsman
Meaning 2: An outstanding achievement
Meaning 3: A work created in order to qualify as a master craftsman and member of a guild

[[ Sources : https://www.dictionary.com/browse/masterpiece & https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/masterpiece ]]

The Star Wars trilogy is a Master Piece. [[ meaning 1 - the 3 Plural Movies are a Part of 1 Singular trilogy ]]

The three movies in the Star Wars trilogy are Master Pieces. [[ meaning 1 - talking about the 3 Plural Movies ]]

The three movies are a Master Piece. [[ meaning 2 - talking about the Singular Achievement ]]

The three movies are Master Pieces. [[ meaning 2 - talking about the Plural Achievement ]]

It could be argued that the 3 movies are the Singular work required to qualify or get membership, thus "are a Master Piece" would be ok by meaning 3.

Some other Examples to think about :

"These movies are a treat to watch."
"These movies are treats to watch."

"These toys are a bargain at a Dollar Each."
"These toys are bargains at a Dollar Each."

English Accent

Most Hungarians have the same good English accent. [[ having same accent & good accent ]]

Most Hungarians have good, but distinctive, English accents. [[ having good accent but not same accent ]]

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  • 2
    You need to add the sources for all the content you copied (definitions)
    – Laurel
    Jul 15, 2022 at 12:08
  • So one could argue that the examples written on the main post are all correct? And, just as Bilal Bahaa pointed out on his comment, it's more of a context matter as opposed to a grammatical one?
    – arteezy
    Jul 15, 2022 at 16:42
  • Consistency is the key !! In case you are talking about 1 unit made of the 3 movies , that is Singular. In case you are talking about the 3 Individual Movies , that is Plural. I want to high-light "the same good English accent" versus the given Example "a good English accent" , @arteezy
    – Prem
    Jul 15, 2022 at 19:37

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