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Life or Lives

Is it wrong to say, “The life of the people”? Or, do you have to say, “The lives of the people”? When you use “of” in this context do the numbers (pluralization) have to match between the first noun and the last noun?

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"The life of the people" is the collective social life of the people, as in "The life of the Hopi is still largely communal," or "The life of the medieval peasant was a hard one." If you turn it around and say "medieval peasants had hard lives," it pretty much means the same thing.

tnh March 18, 2003 @ 1:07AM

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