singular/plural

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singular/plural

Post by navi » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:08 pm

1) Every incident of a policeman arresting an innocent person was reported.
2) Every incident of policemen arresting innocent people was reported.

Is there any difference in the meanings of these sentences?

Does '1' rule out the cases where more than one policeman was involved and/or more than one innocent person was arrested?
Does ''2' rule out the cases where one policeman arrested one innocent person?

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: singular/plural

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:44 pm

I think this is one of those cases where the context determines the meaning.

You could attempt to derive the meaning from the grammar, but (partly because we know a priori that individuals — whether just one or several/many — are liable to be arrested by one or more policemen), and because the sentence makes reference to multiple reports of arrests, I think one would have to assume that all permutations of number are possible for both 1) and 2).
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Re: singular/plural

Post by Phil White » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:05 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:44 pm
I think this is one of those cases where the context determines the meaning.
There are no other cases. Context always determines meaning. It is only a matter of degree.
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

End of topic.
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