nouns after "their"

7M4SBQ

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello, everyone.
A noun after "their" is sometimes used in a singular form, but sometimes in a plural form.

In the following sentences, I wonder if nouns after should be singular or plural.

#1 We often see young people looking at the screens of their smartphones while walking along the streets.
#2 We often see young people looking at the screen of their smartphones while walking along the streets.
#3 We often see young people looking at the screen of their smartphone while walking along the streets.

Thank you
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Both #1 and #3 are possible, and the answer varies depending on what, if anything, you feel need emphasising. If you want to make it clear that each person only looks at one smartphone, then use #3. It you want to make it clear that the young people don't all share the same smartphone, then use #1. Neither really need any emphasis here, in which case my own preference would be for #1, but other speakers habitually use #3. #1 is the most consistent, grammatically, and might be preferred in a formal situation.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    #3 sounds wrong to me because they don’t share a single screen. So #1 is the only one which makes sense to me.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    #1 or #3, and I rrally don't think there's any difference in emphasis. They're both commonly used, when each person has one of each thing.
     
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