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Confused with how to use " kind of ":

  1. What kind of a person are you?

  2. What kind of person are you?

  3. What kind of people are they?

  4. What kinds of people are they?

Can you tell me which sentences are correct? And what is the difference between them?

  • "What kind of a person are you?", use the singular. Of the many different "kinds of persons there are" which one, kind of a person, are you? "What kind of people are they?" – Peter Jan 14 '17 at 12:39
  • All these sentences are grammatical, although some will sound better than others depending on the context. – Araucaria Jan 15 '17 at 17:36
  • @Araucaria so all of them is correct? May you give examle? – CatfishFTW Jan 15 '17 at 19:59
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    @CatfishFTW 1 & 2 basically mean the same thing, but they have different nuances perhaps. Sentence 3 suggests that they are all the same type of person. Sentence 4 suggest that perhaps they can be analysed as several different types of people. – Araucaria Jan 15 '17 at 23:50
  • This is kind of a hard question to answer. – Ben Kovitz May 28 '17 at 2:41
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"What kind of a(n)" is much less common than "What kind of" without an article (2093 instances in the NOW corpus, out of a total of 35175 instances of "what kind of"). But it is perfectly grammatical, and there are some well known quotes which use it. If you search for

What kind of a girl ...

and

What kind of a life ...

you will find many hits.

NO. 4 is also less common, because we don't often talk about more than one kind of thing at a time; but it's perfectly grammatical.

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The 2nd and 3rd one are correct. Other two are wrong.

In first sentence, "What kind of a person are you?" - We don't use "a" in such kind of sentences. In other words, you can say that article doesn't come after "kind of"

In 4th sentence, "What kinds of people are they" - You are supposed to use the singular form. "Kinds" is incorrect grammatically.

Here are few other examples that might help improve your understanding.

  • What kind of smell is this?

  • We don't often hear such kind of noise.

  • I despise this kind of person.

  • I don't like these kind of cakes.

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    "What kinds of people are they?" is "incorrect grammatically". Hmm... let's try this example: A: "There are only two kinds of people." B: "What kinds of people are they?" -- Sounds fine to me. – Damkerng T. Jan 15 '17 at 11:54
  • All of those sentences are grammatical in modern English :( – Araucaria Jan 15 '17 at 17:35
  • @DamkerngT. Yep, quite agree. – Araucaria Jan 15 '17 at 17:37
  • Is this answer wrong? – CatfishFTW Jan 15 '17 at 19:59
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    @CatfishFTW Yes, it's wrong at the moment, unfortunately ... :( – Araucaria Jan 15 '17 at 23:47

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