A responsible adult or responsible adults?

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Hi,everyone.
In my teaching plan for the English writing class next week, I want to say "However, we parents and school teachers need to be stern in helping our kids grow into a responsible adult." on one of my PowerPoint slides. But I doubt whether "However, we parents and school teachers need to be stern in helping our kids grow into responsible adults. " would sound more natural. Please tell me, in this situation, which phrase would you native speakers of English use more often or always, "helping our kids grow into responsible adults" or "helping our kids grow into responsible adults"? Besides, do I need to add "to" before "grow"?
Thanks in advance.
Richard
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It has to be plural, 'responsible adults', but I can't immediately think of a good reason why. It is quite natural to use a distributive singular in some expressions: tell the kids to make their bed / raise their hand / draw their house; all the kids want to become a doctor.

    'To' is entirely optional with 'help': help someone (to) do something. There are earlier threads on this.
     
    It has to be plural, 'responsible adults', but I can't immediately think of a good reason why. It is quite natural to use a distributive singular in some expressions: tell the kids to make their bed / raise their hand / draw their house; all the kids want to become a doctor.

    'To' is entirely optional with 'help': help someone (to) do something. There are earlier threads on this.
    You said it, entangledbank. I vaguely remembered, while considering which one of "a responsible adult" or "responsible adults" to use, that I often come across sentences like your last example "All the kids want to become a doctor." Right now after reading your reply, then as you know it, my new problem is that if in "All the kids want to become a doctor." "a doctor" must be used instead of "doctors" while in "help our kids grow into responsible adults" the plural noun has to be used rather than the sigular, then I will feel embarrassed all the time when I need to deal with such sentences. Please think more deeply about this linguistic phenomenon relying on your native speaker intuition and then I guess it is possible for you to come up with an explanation that will surely help me. Thanks a lot.
     
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    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Unless you plan to take several children and merge their cells to create one adult, which requires technology that we do not yet have, multiple children will become multiple adults. Whether or not those adults are responsible is a question for parents and teachers, not linguists.
     
    Unless you plan to take several children and merge their cells to create one adult, which requires technology that we do not yet have, multiple children will become multiple adults. Whether or not those adults are responsible is a question for parents and teachers, not linguists.
    Thanks for your reply, Egmont.
    Most of the time we can think about linguistic issues from the perspective of logic, but sometimes it does not work. Just as Entangledbank says, "It is quite natural to use a distributive singular in some expressions: tell the kids to make their bed / raise their hand / draw their house; all the kids want to become a doctor." I here would like to know whether there is a rule guiding us in these situations. Again, just now I found in an online dictionary the sentence of "They want their kids to be a doctor or a pharmacist.", which I conclude is written by a native speaker of English after reading the whole entry and is not a mistake.
     
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    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It is quite natural to use a distributive singular in some expressions: tell the kids to make their bed / raise their hand / draw their house; all the kids want to become a doctor.
    It wouldn't come naturally to me to use these singulars. I'd use plurals in all of them (and as an editor, I'd change them to plurals): tell the kids to make their beds, raise their hands, draw their houses (these kids aren't very likely sharing a single bed, hand, or house). And all the kids want to become doctors—actually, more likely rock stars ;).
     
    It wouldn't come naturally to me to use these singulars. I'd use plurals in all of them (and as an editor, I'd change them to plurals): tell the kids to make their beds, raise their hands, draw their houses (these kids aren't very likely sharing a single bed, hand, or house). And all the kids want to become doctors—actually, more likely rock stars ;).
    Thanks, Parla. So I take your point as that in these situations the rule is always "singular to singular" or "plural to plural". Am I right? As a non-native speaker teacher of English, I always want to be sure of what I teach my non-native speaker students. Thanks.
     

    L'Homme Inconnu

    Senior Member
    English English
    I have to agree with Parla - singular to singular, plural-plural. I have heard often, and appreciate it may be equally correct to use, singulars with plurals as in the examples, but it is most natural to my ears to get the agreement right.
     
    I have to agree with Parla - singular to singular, plural-plural. I have heard often, and appreciate it may be equally correct to use, singulars with plurals as in the examples, but it is most natural to my ears to get the agreement right.
    Hi,L'Homme Inconnu.
    This morning I read the startling news of the crash landing of a Boeing 777 in San Francisco and my heart goes out to the two families who lost their loved ones and those injured.
    On the website of msnbc at the end of its report on this tradgedy, I read the following paragraph:
    White House officials said President Obama is being updated on new developments while he remains at Camp David for the weekend. In a statement, the White House said the president’s thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash.

    Please notice the two places I underlined. My question is, why is the rule of "plural to plural" not adhered to here? Thanks!
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Because the reporter, or perhaps the White House press office, chose not to follow it.

    Neither thought to check with this forum before making the report. :D
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    In this case, it is known (so far) that two families each lost one loved one, so the plural-to-singular usage seems appropriate, although it certainly could read "families who lost loved ones" as well.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    (a) One family lost a loved one.
    (b) Two families each lost a loved one.
    (c) Two families lost a loved one.
    (d) '... the families who lost a loved one'.

    Sentence (b) is clearer than (c) and certainly better style.

    However, to say (e) '... the families who each lost a loved one' would create an inappropriate emphasis.
    To say (f) '... each of the families who lost a loved one' would not be inappropriate.
    However, if (f) is valid, how is (d) invalid?
     
    (a) One family lost a loved one.
    (b) Two families each lost a loved one.
    (c) Two families lost a loved one.
    (d) '... the families who lost a loved one'.

    Sentence (b) is clearer than (c) and certainly better style.

    However, to say (e) '... the families who each lost a loved one' would create an inappropriate emphasis.
    To say (f) '... each of the families who lost a loved one' would not be inappropriate.
    However, if (f) is valid, how is (d) invalid?
    Thanks. Then how does "the two families who lost their loved ones" sound?
     
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