Singular or Plural Noun?

Hi,

There's a line in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that reads: 'At long last, the golden plates returned to their original spotless state'. However, shouldn't the word 'state' be pluralised?

Thanks

Mark

Comments

  • edited February 19

    Hi Mark,

    well, not necessarily in my opinion. Using the singular, the author is implying a "shared" original spotless state of the plates, so to speak.

    @Mark_S

  • Mark. I'd go further than favilla, who says 'Not necessarily' I'd say 'Necessarily not'.

    'At long last, the golden plates returned to their original spotless states'.

    implies (to me, at any rate) that the plates had different states of spotlessness.

    But spotless is absolute. Any spotless thing is spotless in the same way as any other spotless thing.

    OK, we might imaging a fantasy world with different types of spotlessness. But the fantasy world of Harry Potter is the just our world with added magic. Potterworld unmagic objects like gold plates are just like our gold plates.

  • Mark_SMark_S
    edited February 19

    @DavidCrosbie said:
    Mark. I'd go further than favilla, who says 'Not necessarily' I'd say 'Necessarily not'.

    'At long last, the golden plates returned to their original spotless states'.

    implies (to me, at any rate) that the plates had different states of spotlessness.

    But spotless is absolute. Any spotless thing is spotless in the same way as any other spotless thing.

    OK, we might imaging a fantasy world with different types of spotlessness. But the fantasy world of Harry Potter is the just our world with added magic. Potterworld unmagic objects like gold plates are just like our gold plates.

    Thanks for your response, David.

    In that case, if you were to remove the word 'spotless', would you pluralise the word 'state'? Or would that be contingent upon whether the golden plates were all returning to the same state or varying states, as mentioned by @favilla151 ?

  • Mark, I would still use singular state here because the golden plates comprise a single set and the change to spotlessness is a single instantaneous event.

  • Mark, when a shared condition is represented as individual, the result can be deliberately humorous. Consider Tom Lehrer's

    You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas.
    Go directly, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

  • Many thanks for your help @DavidCrosbie , it makes sense now.

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