This/these kind/sort of thing/things.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Yuukan, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. Yuukan Senior Member


    In the following expression , which one is correct to use?

    Definitely this kind of / sort of ideas changes the world

    Thanks for your suggestions.
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hello Yuukan,

    This kind of idea changes the world sounds better to me than this sort of idea changes the world, but there is not a great deal in it.

    You need to sort out the singular/plural clash: is that s at the end of idea just a typo? The phrase becomes less happy in the plural:

    These kinds of idea change the world.
  3. Yuukan Senior Member

    I was wrong, that "s" was not a typo

    Thanks Thomas!
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  5. b1947420 Senior Member

    The text isn't quite correct as "Definitely this kind of / sort of ideas changes the world"

    It should read "definitely these kind of /sort of ideas change the world"

    To my mind either "kind of" or "sort of" is acceptable, but to remove the doubt why not use something like "it is definite that ideas like these can change the world"?

    Hope this helps!
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I'm surprised you say this, b1947420. Doesn't the these with the singular sort and kind sound strange to you?
  7. b1947420 Senior Member

    Call it sloppy but in spoken English I probably would use "these kind of / sort of" but you are probably correct that it should be "these kinds of / sorts of" so maybe my suggested alternative text would be the way to side step the issue. ;)
  8. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    To me the sentence sounds awkward, no matter what you do with this/these, kind(s)/sort(s), idea(s). I would rephrase it as "This is the kind of idea that changes the world!"

    Or if I had to use the original structure, I would go with "These kinds of ideas change the world", both in spoken and written language.

    As to "kind(s) of" versus "sort(s) of", I think "sort of" sounds more informal. "Kind of" could of course be informal, but can also be used when you want to speak a little bit more properly. I don't know if this makes sense, but I would be more inclined to use "sort of" in a derogatory sense, as in "This is the sort of thing that got us into this mess in the first place", whereas I would not use "sort of" when praising something sincerely - I would not say "This is the sort of film that made me fall in love with the movies." Hence, as TT says, "These sorts of ideas change the world" sounds a bit off.
  9. Ynez Senior Member

    When I saw a sentence like that I thought it was strange, but then I found in google that it was the most normal option. I still don't know what to think about all this. :confused:

    Do you think both the following could be possible?:

    These kinds of ideas change the world.

    This kind of ideas change/s the world.
  10. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    No, I'm afraid I don't. I'd regard both as unidiomatic.

    This kind of idea changes the world would be my favoured option. I see no need for a plural, of either kind or idea, because this kind of idea is all-embracing.
  11. Ynez Senior Member

    Thank you, Thomas. :)

    Now, I will try to use your mind a bit more...can you please think if that would be possible in all occassions? For instance:

    This kind of thing (all-embracing) instead of These kinds of things.
    This kind of animal instead of These kinds of animals.
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    It's a very good question, Ynez, and I'm very pleased to be put on the spot. Suppose we are dealing with farm animals: cows, sheep, pigs, and goats. If I say this kind of animal - what kind of animal is this kind? Answer: farm animals, i.e. cows, sheep, pigs, and goats. I'm not worried by the plural of animals, because the kind is referring to the adjective, farm. This was what I was thinking when I wrote that sentence about the singular being all-embracing.

    I just can't see the need for a plural, because kind already embraces the category we are considering, and whether we are dealing with snakes or wombats, we'd still say this kind of snake, or this kind of wombat.

    Having said this I should add that I know some English people do say these kinds, when talking of more than one category or kind; for instance, farm animals and domestic animals. I'd say that the correct way of saying that is these kinds of animal. I can see that there may be a temptation to put animal into the plural, but I think it should be resisted.

    P.S. Panj.'s post 4 seems to me to agree with my last paragraph, and, what is more valuable, explains why.
  13. Ynez Senior Member

    Thank you again, Thomas :)

    My personal summary up to now is that most times the singular could cover the general idea (This kind of singular), and that sometimes one could need to use the plural (These kinds of singular).

    As for Panj, I would be very happy if he could tell us what he knows, because he found some explanations in a book. I had looked for an explanation and couldn't find any, nor in a book or in the forum, where I also asked.

    But the text he showed is not of much help to me:

    Because I thought one could say ideas of this kind or animals of this kind.
  14. Ynez Senior Member

    I noticed now that Panj's source is a dictionary, so I checked There is a usage note (EDIT: the quotation is too long, and I would cause confusion leaving only a part of it. Sorry, you can find it under the entry kind in - USAGE NOTE).

    Most of it is not really related to my personal problem, because I never thought of These kind of animals. I think it agrees with what you just said, Thomas. :)
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  15. Derselbe Senior Member

    Deutsch, German, ドイツ語
    Is "kind of + plural" always unidiomatic?

    Does one always have to use either plural or singular for both parts: e.g.

    This kind of good.
    These kinds of goods.

    Or is

    This kind of goods.

    also grammatical?
  16. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    The problem I have with this is that in the original sentence - "Definitely this kind of / sort of ideas changes the world", the concept of "ideas" is not in the singular but in the plural. I think there's a significant distinction between saying that one particular kind of idea is a type of idea that changes the world, as opposed to saying that a particular range/system of ideas is of the sort that changes the world. For this reason I feel it's necessary to preserve the plural, as in the sentence "These kinds of ideas change...", because we are referring here to multiple ideas rather than one specific idea.

    Derselbe, yes. "This kind of... + plural" is always unidiomatic. I'm not sure if I can understand exactly why, but never every say this! Perhaps it's because "this kind of (thing)" really means "This kind of (a) (thing)" and "What kind of car do you have?" really means "What kind of (a) car do you have?" - as in the German "Was für ein Auto hast du?" (If I'm allowed use German here!!)

    Your example is a little bit unfortunate, as the noun "good" (which means goodness/"good" as opposed to "evil") has a completely different meaning from the always plural "goods" (which means products). If you wanted to talk about a specific kind of "goodness", you would say "This kind of good", whereas if you wanted to talk about specific kinds of products, you would indeed say "These kinds of goods"
  17. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
  18. Ynez Senior Member

    Thank you again, lrosa and Thomas. :) Please, go on with us a little bit more. I am truly trying to get a clear idea of all this.

    A sentence from your last quotation, Thomas:

    I like that sentence, but I know by now that it is not idiomatic at all (or is that particular one idiomatic for some strange reason?). Then, as I don't like the alternative These kinds of films, I've come to see that one option in between would be to say This type of films, which seems a little bit less unidiomatic.

    Does that one sound ok to you?

    Later in your quotation, Thomas, it is said that writers don't follow a uniform pattern of use, and that is one thing I am clear about by now: there is a black hole in English grammar regarding this, and natives use it just in a natural, instinctual way (which we learners can't do).
  19. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hi Ynez. I think none of the native speakers is saying that this type of films:cross: is correct. Say this type of film.

    The argument, as I see it, is between these types of film and these types of films.

    Of these two I prefer the first, but my link argues with several people in the thread that these types of films is permissible.
  20. Ynez Senior Member

    According to your link, everything is possible:

    This kind of film is.
    This kind of films is.
    These kind of films are.
    These kinds of films are.

    Which in the end would be my favourite conclusion: everything is correct. :)

    But yes, I can understand the options that are really idiomatic are:

    This kind of film is


    These kinds of films are

    I am sorry to see my version with "type" doesn't sound good either.
  21. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hello Ynez,

    The link says: Of course, when you use the plural kinds, you must use the plural these or those...

    That would seem to me to outlaw your third option, the one I find quite impossible - These kind of films are.

    I'm intrigued to know how you can have thought it was endorsing that.
  22. Ynez Senior Member

    It is said there that kind could be considered an adjective (this is not something I really view in my mind, but there it is said), and then logically (adjectives have no plural) it would have to be used in the singular:

    But I would never use that particular structure, so don't worry. :) Anyhow it seems it was used in the past and still used sometimes, according to the usage note I linked yesterday.
  23. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Thanks for the link, Thomas!

    Ynez, I can't think of any instance where "This kind of + plural" sounds ok to me, because of the implied "This kind of (a) (film)".

    In fact, I believe that the noun film can demonstrate this. Because really "This kind of film" means either "This kind of cinema (as in "German film/cinema" or "Silent film/cinema")" or "This kind of film(reel) (the physical product)". In contrast, what most people mean by "This kind of film" is neither "This genre of cinema" nor "This type of filmreel", but "This kind of (a) film (referring to a specific, individual film)", as in "I like the way the director doesn't tell us how to feel. I really like that (or this) kind of (a) film." Film in this sentence could not be replaced by cinema, proving that it is different from saying, for example: "I'm glad we went to see a German film. I really like that kind of film/cinema."
    As such, the phrase "This kind of film" in itself is ambiguous, but its meaning can be judged by context.
  24. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Yes, I see. Thank you for that. The argument is that kind is an old plural of kind, just as deer is the plural of deer.

    I see the argument is also extended to sort and that some people approve of these sort of problems. I score it through lest anyone think I approve of it. As must be clear, I can't take these kind, either.
  25. Ynez Senior Member

    lrosa, it is clear to me that the feeling of natives for kind is different from mine, and thanks to your explanations I can see a bit how you "feel" it when you say you think of it as "this kind of (a)".

    I "feel" it like this type of or this class of. :)

    Thomas, have you noticed that our links give two different explanations for that strange use of these kind of? It seems this topic has always been a confusing one. :)
  26. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Here, in full, is what New Fowler's Modern English Usage has to say.
    The explanatory note in the OED is also helpful.
    And from the related entry for kin, explaining kind:
    Perhaps it would be useful to look at various possibilities.

    ... this kind of thing ... = a thing of this kind, or things of this kind (where thing represents things as a class).
    ... this kind of things ... sounds really odd.
    ... these kinds of thing ... = things of these kinds (thing representing things as a class).
    ... these kinds of things ... = things of these kinds.
  27. Ynez Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Panj, for sharing your information with us. :)

    We could try to analyze together those last inversions and what they may possibly mean, but it is probably too troublesome, and I have found out something that I had not seen before.

    Google search:

    543.000 de "these kinds of things"
    1.390.000 de "this kind of things"

    244.000 de "these kinds of people"
    724.000 de "this kind of people"

    Having a look I noticed that many pages saying "this kind of ----s" are not from England, US, etc. I hope you can forgive us foreigners for intruding your language, and I hope you can understand this particular structure is just too strange for us.

    When we say "this kind of things" we mean just one type, one variety, one group of things, not several.

    I could say "these kinds of animals" if I really mean several types of animals, at least two different classes.

    In other cases:

    607 de "this kind of ideas"
    26.700 de "these kinds of ideas"

    and my guess was that foreigners don't talk so much about ideas.

    Or is my interpretation wrong and the reason for those results is that "this kind of things" and "this kind of people" are idiomatic for natives?
  28. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    That's interesting that "this kind of things" is used so often. I presume it must be almost all non-natives...

    In summary:

    This kind of idea :tick: (referring to a specific kind of idea)

    This kind of ideas :cross:

    These kinds of ideas :tick: (referring to several kinds of ideas)

    These kinds of idea... (I really don't like this - would anyone actually say "These kinds of person"? - but several natives in this thread seem to support it)

    These kind of idea :cross:

    These kind of ideas :tick: (Again, some people won't like this, and it doesn't look correct when you think about it, but it would seem very natural to me to say it, if not to write it. To me, this is just a shortened version of "These kinds of ideas", because "kind of" is easier to say in fast speech than "kinds of")

    Actually, "this kind of people" means something different, because the word "people" can be either the plural of person or it can be a singular noun in itself, meaning a race of people (which can be pluralised as peoples). So, "this kind of people" would mean "this kind of race". "These kinds of people" would mean "Persons of this kind". "These kinds of peoples" would mean "These kinds of races".
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  29. Ynez Senior Member

    Thank you, lrosa :)

    Thomas, I still believe in your first theory about an all-embracing singular. That could solve the situation many times. ;)
  30. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I'm glad to hear that, Ynez. I thought it had taken a bit of a battering. I've rather lost track of the things which people say they say and which I've never consciously heard.
  31. sunyaer Senior Member

    When "people" is taken as plural of person, "this kind of people" would be equivalent to "this kind of persons", which is unidiomatic, isn't it?

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