# Bacteria colonies can double their number (numbers) ...

#### cheshire

##### Senior Member
Can we use the singular form "number" in this sentence "Under the right conditions, bacteria colonies can double their numbers every twenty minutes."?​

• #### Thomas Tompion

##### Senior Member
Can we use the singular form "number" in this sentence "Under the right conditions, bacteria colonies can double their numbers every twenty minutes."?​
No, I think it has to be numbers, and bacterial colonies run to large numbers.

You need to beware of the expression their number Cheshire, because it can easily mean their turn - their number on the wheel of fortune. He saw the arrow coming towards him and knew that his number was up.

You could say they double in number or double their numbers.

#### cheshire

##### Senior Member
Thanks! Do you mean saying "double their numbers" should be avoided?

#### Thomas Tompion

##### Senior Member
Thanks! Do you mean saying "double their numbers" should be avoided?
No, either of those last two expressions in my post is fine. I'm sorry I phrased it to suggest that one was preferable. I'll change it to avoid misunderstanding.

#### cheshire

##### Senior Member
Should I see "double their numbers" as a fixed expression? Since I can't see the logic that distinguishes "The number of population increased in Tokyo." from "double their numbers."

#### konungursvia

##### Banned
It is only "double their numbers" because the subject of the clause, bacterial colonies, is plural, each colony having its own number or count.

#### cheshire

##### Senior Member
Thanks konungursvia!
Do you confirm if the following understanding is right?

USA's number
Mexico's number

---> Canada, USA, and Mexico's numbers

#### Thomas Tompion

##### Senior Member
Thanks konungursvia!
Do you confirm if the following understanding is right?

USA's number
Mexico's number

---> Canada, USA, and Mexico's numbers
Hi, Cheshire,

Yes, that certainly makes sense to me. And Konungursvia made a good point in that previous post (6).

#### konungursvia

##### Banned
Cheshire, you are correct, (Canada's, America's and Mexico's numbers) and clearly you understand perfectly, although as Thomas illustrates above, there are cases in which people sometimes use the plural for no clear reason, in expressions like "ever larger numbers" and "increasing numbers." This is probably because the number changes to other even larger numbers.

#### notdominique

##### Senior Member
Hello,
I am interested in the answer too ! I hope it's not rude to subscribe to the thread for this reason ?

#### Thomas Tompion

##### Senior Member
Hello,
I am interested in the answer too ! I hope it's not rude to subscribe to the thread for this reason ?
Certainly not dominique, and you mustn' hesitate to ask or contribute in any way you wish.

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