a nation’s culture and history

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Royal families also play a role in preserving a nation’s culture and history.
Why Do We Still Have Monarchies? a video by NowThis

This seems odd to me. Sounds like there's one nation, whose culture and history all royal families preserve:confused:

So I'd have said:
Royal families also play a role in preserving their nations’s cultures and history.

What do you think of that?
Thank you.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Either version would be fine, if you're talking about royal families in various countries. Just check your punctuation.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You were expecting a monarch to preserve the culture and history of another nation than their own?
    I wasn't, but, isn't the speaker?...
    Not at all (and where would the logic be in such a statement? If I'm king of country A why would I be interested in preserving the history and culture of country B? :eek: ). The "a" here is just a general responsibility of a monarch/family to preserve ... a nation. The sentence begins a plural version of :A royal family ...
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Not at all (and where would the logic be in such a statement? If I'm king of country A why would I be interested in preserving the history and culture of country B? :eek: ). The "a" here is just a general responsibility of a monarch/family to preserve ... a nation. The sentence begins a plural version of :A royal family ...
    I agree about "logic", but isn't it a case where grammar is against logic?

    E.g., a sentence from Longman:
    "Cats prey on birds and mice."
    If I rewrite it as "Cats prey on a bird and a mouse." -- would it still sound right?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I agree about "logic", but isn't it a case where grammar is against logic?

    E.g., a sentence from Longman:
    "Cats prey on birds and mice."
    If I rewrite it as "Cats prey on a bird and a mouse." -- would it still sound right?
    That wouldn't sound logical either:)

    In many cases where the subject and object can be either singular or plural is where English grammar is lacking (I know this will disppoint you terribly:eek: ).
    The students all held up their book(s). (How many does each hold up? More than one or just one?)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    The students all held up their book(s). (How many does each hold up? More than one or just one?)
    It's a specific situation, and context usually makes the number of things clear. But in the OP and Longman, they are generalizations, and so, the grammar there must be less vague I think:)
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Royal families also play a role in preserving a nation’s culture and history.

    This is indefinite generic reference, where "a" singles out one member of the set "nations," and this one member refers to the set "nations" as a whole (and not to one member in particular). It's the same thing that happens in A tiger hunts alone (a = any = all). If you say "Royal families also play a role in preserving their nations's culture and history," it begins to sound as if the royal families have/own/ have a presence in more than one nation.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Royal families also play a role in preserving a nation’s culture and history.

    This is indefinite generic reference, where "a" singles out one member of the set "nations," and this one member refers to the set "nations" as a whole (and not to one member in particular). It's the same thing that happens in A tiger hunts alone (a = any = all). If you say "Royal families also play a role in preserving their nations's culture and history," it begins to sound as if the royal families have/own/ have a presence in more than one nation.
    I know what "a" was intended to mean here, but it sounds ambiguous. And when in such generalizations we use plurals with plurals, and singulars with singulars, it's always clearer I think. If you say "royal families .... their nations's cultures and history", logic would prevent you from interpreting it as you did.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I know what "a" was intended to mean here, but it sounds ambiguous. And when in such generalizations we use plurals with plurals, and singulars with singulars, it's always clearer I think. If you say "royal families .... their nations's cultures and history", logic would prevent you from interpreting it as you did.
    (You didn't pluralize history - each country has its own history:)
    It's still ambiguous:( How many nations do they have to preserve? How many books did each student hold up? Logic reigns over potential ambiguities that cannot be resolved with just grammar (or not without re-wording extensively). The very slight potential ambiguity in the OP is trounced by the logic of one monarch/family per country:)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    By the way, why use "their" at all?

    Royal families also play a role in preserving nations’s cultures and histories.

    I think it sounds even better now, doesn't it?:)
     
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