1. Ecksvie
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    Ecksvie Member

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    The joy of plurals

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ecksvie, Dec 3, 2009.

    Hey all,

    This is my first proper post on these forums, and is actually the reason I realised I needed to belong to a forum like this one.

    I'm currently proofreading one of my books that contains creatures called djinn. Djinn is one of those words like "sheep" - it's the same for singular and plural.

    This presents me with a problem in regards to this little passage:

    It's the "It was djinn" part that bothers me, because I have no idea if it's right or not. I'm normally good with my grammar, but with this one I have absolutely no idea.

    Help?
     
  2. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Djinn is plural, djinni singular.
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not remove the problem altogether and simply state "Djinn, two by the sound of it". The "It was ..." part is inherently redundant IMO, as well as the similarly awkward "... of them ..." part.

    And as an aside, don't worry too hard about this sort of thing or you'll end in a state of paralysis by analysis, a state not at all condusive to getting your story written.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    "It" refers to the sound, which is singular. Your sentence is fine as it stands. There are, of course, other ways to say the same thing, both to avoid the plurality issue and to eliminate the passive verb "was."

    However, the sentence is grammatically correct without change.
     
  5. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    It really seems fine by me. But if it seems weird to you change the sentence to;

    "He knew what it [the sound they had just heard] was, without even having to look. Djinn, two of them by the sound of it."

    That sounds fine to. But this is your story. :3
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You can resolve the issue (I agree, it does read a little awkwardly) quite simply by changing "It was" to "There were" or "They were" or something like that.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog is right... 'it' refers only to the sound, not to the djinn themselves... 'the sound of' is implied, after 'it was'... so the sentences are grammatically correct, though could be worded better, imo...
     

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