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ssparks120
April 5th, 2006, 07:10 AM
In a sentence like this.

They would soon clear and the soldiers' vision(s?) would be restored.

The word soldiers' is plural, so then should the word vision also need an s when you are talking about more than one soldier?

Banger
April 5th, 2006, 07:37 AM
You're speaking collectively, so it would be the soldiers' vision.

BrianC
April 5th, 2006, 07:40 AM
In a sentence like this.

They would soon clear and the soldiers' vision(s?) would be restored.

The word soldiers' is plural, so then should the word vision also need an s when you are talking about more than one soldier?
Technically the word "vision" should be plural. The reason becomes clear if you break down the compound sentence.

(1) They would soon clear.

(2) The soldiers' vision would be restored.
"Vision" is the subject of the sentence. "Soldiers'" is a possessive adverb. Because there is more than one "vision" that would be restored, then the subject is plural and the sentence should read "The soldiers' visions would be restored."

Unfortunately, this is an example of a sentence in English that sounds and reads awkward when technically correct. Can I suggest an alternative that does not have this problem?

They would soon clear and each soldier's vision would be restored.

Dawnstorm
April 5th, 2006, 08:20 AM
Actually, "vision", when meaning "capacity to see", is an uncountable noun, which means it has no plural.

The usual method to work plural into this is to modify the uncountable noun with a countable one: e.g. "fields of vision".

So it's either:

"They would soon clear and the soldiers' vision would be restored."

Or, it's

"They would soon clear and the soldiers' fields of vision would be restored."

The difference is one of emphasis. The first is, as Banger points out, speaking collectively. The second is emphasising the individual soldiers.

***

Let me give an example with a different uncountable noun: rice.

Let's say every soldier has a ration of rice, which he carries in a small bag. Let's say, all the rice is stolen. You can, then, say:

"The soldiers' rice has been stolen."

You will do this if your emphasis is on the fact that there's no more rice.

Or you could say:

"The soldiers' bags of rice have been stolen."

You will do this when you want to draw attention to the soldiers.

"The soldiers' rice had been stolen. What would they eat?"

"The soldiers' bags of rice had been stolen, but none of their other possessions had been touched."

***

It's similar with "vision".

***

Oh, and by the way, there's a sticky "Grammar Query Thread" made for enquiries such as this one. :)

BrianC
April 5th, 2006, 09:28 AM
I stand corrected, I suppose, but I cannot quite understand why vision is uncountable in the same sense as "smoke", or "water", or "mankind". Vision is reducible, by definition, because each of us possesses these senses. Maybe there is a special rule for the senses, taste and hearing and such, of which I am unaware. Either way, I still find the sentence awkward, whether the word used is "vision" or "visions".

Dawnstorm
April 5th, 2006, 01:33 PM
I agree, it's a bit strange. But that's what the dictionary says.

choppy
April 5th, 2006, 02:32 PM
I agree with Dawnstorm on this one - sort of. I think this may be a problem of simply not being clear in what is meant. The word "soldiers'" refers to a collective group. What (I believe) you mean to refer to is the vision of each soldier, rather than all of them possessing a single aility to see the same thing. So whether or not you write something that may be grammatically correct (soldiers' vision) you are leaving some ambiguity as to what is going on.

To be more clear you might say something like:
They would soon clear and each soldier's vision would be restored.
or
They would soon clear and most soldiers would see their vision restored.

All of this changes of course if by "vision" you mean something akin to a premonition, which is countable.

$0.02

BrianC
April 5th, 2006, 03:10 PM
To be more clear you might say something like:
They would soon clear and each soldier's vision would be restored.
I agree with choppy :D

microbes
April 5th, 2006, 04:31 PM
Unless by vision you mean a premonition. In writing a fantasy or scifi story about soldiers that usage would be very possible, and in that case a plural may be indicated.

English is such a great language isn't it?

microbes
April 5th, 2006, 04:35 PM
Ah, I should read the whole thread before speaking:


All of this changes of course if by "vision" you mean something akin to a premonition, which is countable

Great minds and all that.