A and B have a tongue

popup

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello,

I've learned that we need to use plural if the noun is more than one. However, I'm hesitating about the case below because each animal has a single tongue while there are more than one animals. If so, which sentence is correct, or neither? Thank you!

1. Both anteaters and aardvarks have a long sticky tongue. They both dig a hole in the soil and stretch their tongue into the hole so they can catch the insects with their sticky tongue.

2. Both anteaters and aardvarks have long sticky tongues. They both dig a hole in the soil and stretch their tongues into the hole so they can catch the insects with their sticky tongues.
 
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  • popup

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi Copyright,

    Do you mean both the sentences (which I updated) are correct? How can that be? I mean don't we have a rule which form (singular or plural) to use in this case? :)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    This has been discussed many times, as I recall, but it will take me some searching to find previous threads. To be honest, I haven't read them, but it's my opinion that both are correct and the decision about which to choose will often remain with the writer or speaker.

    Let me look around. :)
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    Personally, I'd go with the first. The second adds ambiguity in some circumstances, and nothing else.

    However, everyone will understand the second (in this instance), so it's not that important.
     

    popup

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    So it is correct to say "their tongue"? In the past, I thought this expression was wrong because I need to use a plural after "their"... :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Here are a few discussions of the same topic in different contexts. You will see that there is no single rule. Sometimes people prefer the singular or the plural on the basis of context, but for the most part they agree that both are possible.
    face or faces
    the colour(s) of their hair [singular or plural?]
    Plural or singular in this context?
    students whose final exam <score/scores> [singular vs plural in adjective clause]

    their +singular/plural
    sitting on the edge/edges of their chairs.

    You are welcome to add a question or comment to any existing thread. :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    So it is correct to say "their tongue"? In the past, I thought this expression was wrong because I need to use a plural after "their"... :)
    We have quite a few threads on this topic, which you can find by using the search box at the top of the page to search for singular their.
    Here is one that may answer your question: Singular Their + Singular noun

    You are welcome to add a question to any existing thread. :)
    Discussion of the question is off-topic in this thread. ;)
     
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