Which is correct:

the arrival of some flights is delayed

the arrivals of some flights are delayed

I think #2 is correct, because we have one arrival for each flight.

However, in Persian we always use the #1 in this case. In that case I interpret it as For some flights, the arrival time is delayed, for example one can contrast arrival time with the departure time and we make it distinguished.

The name of some students is absent in this list.

The names of some students are absent in this list.

Here, we use both.

Please give me the names of students

Please give me the name of students *

In this case, we only say the #1

Don't know if we have such interpretations in English.

  • To avoid this kind of confusion I would say "the arrival times of ..." Otherwise if you're referring to what people actually say than I've heard both. – Andrew Dec 1 '16 at 22:31
  • To sidestep the issue, sort of: Some flight arrivals are delayed. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 1 '16 at 22:49
  • Arrival of some flights=some flights arrival. Now, it has to agree with the phrase head. – user178049 Dec 2 '16 at 1:01
  • Any more context? I wonder whether is/are is the best verb to use. – user3169 Dec 2 '16 at 2:02

arrival can be a count or a non-count noun.

If you choose to regard arrival as an abstract concept, it is non-count, so it remains singular.

If you choose to regard an arrival as the arrival of a specific aircraft, arrival is count, so you would use the plural when talking about multiple planes.

Both forms are therefore perfectly valid and have pretty much the same meaning, although the two forms reflect different ways of thinking inside the speaker's head.

Here are two examples of using a singular (abstract concept) arrival to describe a number of separate arrivals of something.

In the early twentieth century, immigration laws favored the arrival of women whose primary work lay in the home - The qualities of a citizen

During this period, many nation states erected barriers to the arrival of unwanted migrants, including people seeking asylum. - Encyclopaedia of race, ethnicity and society

| improve this answer | |
  • You mean countable noun? – Ahmad Dec 2 '16 at 11:21
  • Each flight has an arrival, then I don't think that I can sum them with "arrival". Can I ? You may bring an example of its non-countable form. – Ahmad Dec 2 '16 at 11:26
  • @Ahmad, I have added two examples. – JavaLatte Dec 2 '16 at 12:09

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