Singular or plural: the {look/looks} ... on their faces

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la.la.la

Member
vietnamese
HI!!
I have just read a sentence from a book, which is
"He could see the look of confidence on their faces."
I just wonder why they didn't put plurals for "look", like "the looks of confidence on their faces", because it is the look from more than 1 person (their). Please explain.
Thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I would have used "looks" in that sentence. Perhaps the writer thought they all shared the same look of confidence.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Could you give us some context please, lalala? Who is 'he' and whose faces is he looking at?
     

    la.la.la

    Member
    vietnamese
    Oh it's a story, some people are chasing a man. "He" is that man. The whole context is:
    "William saw the horsemen approaching; they were so close now he could see the look of confidence on their faces."
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    OK, so the horsemen are seen as a group. Also, look here means appearance, so it is kind of an abstract (uncountable) noun.
     

    la.la.la

    Member
    vietnamese
    I still don't really understand. I know look and appearance have a quite similar meaning, but how do you know it is an abstract noun? And would it be wrong if I used "looks" instead of "look"??
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The description is of their appearance as a group, not as individuals. It could be written "they were so close now he could see the confidence on their faces". If you wrote "looks" you would be suggesting that they each had an individual look, which would not make sense here.
     
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