all kinds of things/thing

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cheshire, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    English is famous for having words for all kinds of things,
    I found this in a website, but I'm wondering if we can replace the "things" with "thing."
  2. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I'm afraid not. It's "all kinds of things"; however, you may say "every kind of thing."
  3. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    "All kinds" is plural, Cheshire - same as "all sorts", and "all types". "All" also tells us that there is more than one "kind". Accordingly, the "things must also be plural". You wouldn't say "I'm sick. I have all kinds/sorts of ache and pain", you would say "...all kinds/sorts of aches and pains".
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please excuse me if I swear furiously first.
    I have just lost this entire post due to system busy and forgetting to either preview or save a copy. The original was better than this one - it was pure brilliance, now lost forever.

    I have just taken a walk through the OED and New Fowler's Modern English Usage and I found all kinds of information that is very helpful in understanding this kind of phrase.

    All kinds of things is a transposition of the normal syntactical relation, things of all kinds.
    This kind of thing, a transposition of a thing of this kind.

    That is very helpful in determining that kinds of XXXX is plural, kind of XXXX is singular.

    But that isn't the question.
    It does help, though, it means that we can be confident of being correct if reversing the phrase makes sense. So, if XXXX of all kinds sounds OK then all kinds of XXXX is OK.

    That gives a safe option - so all kinds of things will definitely be OK. But don't we often use the singular form as if it were plural? There are plenty of examples of "... varieties of tree" as well as "... varieties of trees." So it seems to me that "... all kinds of tree" must be OK too, despite the fact that it fails "the OED test" of phrase reversal (I couldn't bear to say tree of all kinds).
  5. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    :) Thanks for your jewelboxes of explanations, folks!
    I hope to hear more opinions on this--whether "all kinds of tree" is OK is a regional thing or accepted anywhere.
  6. LouisaB Senior Member

    English, UK
    'All kinds of tree' would be (I believe) an accepted form all over the UK, though you do hear 'all kinds of trees' as well. It could depend on context. The first would be perhaps more horticultural, because it's effectively an abbreviation of "all kinds of the genus 'Tree' ", but the second is more general.

    By extension, I'd say that Panjandrum's general rule of reversion holds good here, because while 'tree' can be a genus, 'thing' can only ever be vague and universal. You can't have 'all kinds of thing', or 'thing of all kinds'.

    I'd still agree with Panjandrum that 'tree of all kinds' is a loathsome phrase. I'm sure there's a brilliant reason for this, which was probably expounded with stunning clarity in the part of the message consumed by the server...

  7. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Thank you Louisa,:) having read your post I remembered one explanation of why "dog" in "Dog is man's best friend" is OK even it's in singular. He or she said the "dog" is not a specific entity but a category. I think the same logic holds true when we talk about "all kinds of tree."

    Oh panjy, I miss the Atlantis of your post!

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