Hi all. I'm having a bit of trouble working this one out on my own. Maybe I've been working too hard lately because it feels like I should be able to solve this one.

The sentence is: "By working with community leaders and spreading information, they prevent the destruction of buildings."

I'm being asked why destruction isn't plural (because "there are many buildings"). Alternatives given to me are "they prevent destructions of buildings" and "they prevent the destructions of buildings."

I know my version is correct, but why am I correct? Is destruction and noun or a verb in this case.

I'm having a hard time finding other examples of "the ____ of ____" on grammar pages.

I can easily replace buildings with almost anything: "They prevent the destruction of rivers/countries/soda cans," so I know it's "the ___ of [noun]." but the first blank is confusing me.

I know I can also say: "the cutting of trees" for example. Or "the legalizing of gambling." So does that mean that destruction in this case is a verb and not a noun? Then wouldn't it be "They prevent the destorying of buildings?" That doesn't sound right to me.

What's the grammar rule here? What should I be looking up? Thanks!

destruction is an uncountable noun.

We don't say eg The explosion caused 20 destructions.

AnonymousThe sentence is: "By working with community leaders and spreading information, they prevent the destruction of buildings."
I think the key word is "the" destruction,the ultimate fate (of the buildings).

To me, "destruction" is a collective noun in this context. Even though "the end" may not take place at the exact same time, perhaps days or weeks apart, but the inevitable will eventually happen to the buildings if they don't work with the community leader trying to save them. That's my interpretation.
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"...the destruction of buildings." is correct. The reason for the singlular of destruction, and not the plural, is that you're talking about a single idea, destruction, that is common to however many buildings that might be destroyed. Also, English is a non-inflected language, and so things like plurals tend not to "propagate" freely in a sentence.

Note however that a sentence with the phrase "...prevent the destructions..." is possible; for example: They did everything possible to prevent the destructions of property that would followe in the wake of hurricanes of this magnitude. The difference here is that you have a common idea, property, that may be acted upon numerous times by the storm, resulting in multiple destructions. Also, euphony is a factor here. "destructions of property" "sounds better" than "destruction of properties". This is the kind of thing native speakers know by instinct.
Would like to know if you would like to go to lunch or dinner
 Clive's reply was promoted to an answer.
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