The homework is as following

As it stands, our rule allows just one determiner in an NP.

NP → (D) (AdjP+) N (PP+) (CP) (PP+)

How can we revise this rule to account for the following data:

b. the many faces

Now people in #english on freenode argued that the many is rather forced, on the edge of acceptability. Does this hold?

  • 5
    They would be well-advised to stop reading freenode and start reading books. "The many faces" is unexceptionable.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 1, 2012 at 21:26
  • The question and answer have been useful to me, shame it is closed. Oct 14, 2015 at 9:45

1 Answer 1


Yes, the many faces is fine; so are the various faces, the few faces, the several faces, both the faces, etc. Your Freenode people are on the edge of wrong. See this Google Books search on “the many”, to discover the many sorts of the-many examples that exist out there.

  • The many costs of racism
  • The many faces of shame
  • The many voices of
  • The many legalities of
  • The many voices of history

And many more. But “many voices” seems the most common.

The problem is that you are assuming many can only be a determiner. I think you should consider that it could also be of another, more liberal class. Then you wouldn’t have to fix your rule.

Otherwise you would have to change the rule to

NP → (D+) (AdjP+) N (PP+) (CP) (PP+)

But that would admit many invalid parses, so I don’t really suggest it.

You may have to subdivide your determiners.

  • And, lest we forget, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Oct 1, 2012 at 21:32
  • Or the seven faces of Dr. Lao
    – J.R.
    Oct 1, 2012 at 21:45
  • 1
    "Because the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many."
    – MetaEd
    Oct 1, 2012 at 22:12
  • 1
    @MετάEd Isn't that D N ? Oct 1, 2012 at 23:52

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