Re: grammar: "types of ____(s)"? (#178598)

Subject: Re: grammar: "types of ____(s)"? (#178598)
From: wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 14:42:44 MST

>We've got a debate going here at work. Which of the following phrases
>is correct?
>"...types of document"
>"...types of documents"
>To put it in context: "What types of document(s) can I find in the
>electronic repository?"
>A trip to the dictionary provided us with the model "kinds of sports",
>and I assume that "types" follows the same rule. However, my gut
>instinct says to go with Plato's forms: there are many chair-instances
>but only one true chair.
>Who can speak with authority on this one?

Plato's metaphysics applies to the discussion of essences (and maybe it worked
fine for classical Greek), but it doesn't carry over into modern English usage.
I don't recall encountering a singular noun in the position you're describing.
With a noncount noun, I could see a dilemma, but not in this case.

I'd either stick with a plural noun as the object of the preposition, or I'd
recast the sentence without the genitive structure (i.e., "document types"
rather than "types of documents").

Bill Burns
Assembly Documentation Supervisor
wburns -at- micron -dot- com
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