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Hi,
sorry, I'm always struggling with the same problems...
I know it's more common (much more common, I'd say) to use plural nouns in cases like "The students opened their books" (instead of "book"). But, in this case...
  • Nowadays, most Americans have [a PC/ PCs] in their [home/ homes].
I would say "Most Americans have a PC in their homes", singular PC, plural homes, but I don't know why. Any comments?

Thank you in advance. Emotion: smile
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Most Americans have

1. a PC in their home
2. PCs in their home
3. a PC in their homes
4. PCs in their homes

I don't know why, but I'm inclined to take all of these rather literally.

1. one PC in one home.
2. more than one PC in one home.
3. one PC in each of several homes.
4. more than one PC in each of several homes.

I believe I would just use the first one, because the usual situation in the universe of possibilities that I familiar with as an American is one PC in one home.

CJ
Comments  
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
CalifJim
I don't know why, but I'm inclined to take all of these rather literally.
Thanks.
Do you think it's just the way you see it, or do you see it like a general rule? My problem is that often I don't really know whether to choose a singular or plural noun. In particular, I don't know what would sound odd to American ears. I searched the net for examples (on Google, getting accurate results), but the results are strange. It seems "Elephants have a trunk" would be odd, "Elephants have trunks" is what practically everyone would say. Same for "They lost their life", odd, it's "their lives". But, here's a strange result, it seems "They blow their nose/noses" can be said both ways.

Maybe some comments on these sentences will help me understand a little more. Considering the words in bold as variables that can be changed to singular or plural, which are the common, possible or odd ways to say these sentences?
  1. Most Americans have [a PC / PCs] in their [home / homes].
  2. Most Americans have at least one PC in their [home / homes].
  3. All of them raised their right [hand / hands].
  4. The students opened their [book / books] to page 65.
  5. I can't stand people who blow their [nose / noses]...
  6. We are graduate students, we all attended [an American college / American colleges].
Thanks Emotion: smile
Never ask a millipede how he manages to walk. You will cause him to tie himself in knots trying to explain and demonstrate what he does normally without effort every day! Emotion: smile

I feel you've put me in the unenviable position of the millipede.

I'll give you the first answer that comes to mind on these sentences, even if I contradict myself!

  1. Most Americans have a PC in their home. (PCs in their homes also sounds fine.)
  2. Most Americans have at least one PC in their home.
  3. All of them raised their right hands. (hand not bad either.)
  4. The students opened their books to page 65. (book does not sound right except in the case of sharing.)
  5. I can't stand people who blow their noses... (nose OK too)
  6. We are graduate students, we all attended American colleges. (unless all attended the same college)
These are so variable (and may even depend on speaker preferences) that regardless of which variant you choose, I don't think you risk generating an entirely awful sentence.

CJ