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This is my original sentence:

1A) Babies will reach out for toys when sitting, point at small items with their index finger, and use their index finger, middle fingers and thumb to form a pincer grip to pick up items and hold them in their hand.

I looked over it and I realised that I’m referring to babies therefore the body parts must be plural. So I changed it to:

1B) Babies will reach out for toys when sitting, point at small items with their index fingers, and use their index fingers, middle fingers and thumbs to form a pincer grip to pick up items and hold them in their hands.

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Can I write it like this or does it sound odd?

If it is fine, would I have to change feet to feets and hand to hands in these two sentences?

2) They will ride a tricycle by pushing along with their feets.

3) They will have progressed to drawing circles, lines, and dots using their preferred hands.

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I do not agree with the other answer. The sentence should be:

Babies will reach out for toys when sitting, point at small items with their index finger, and use their index finger, middle finger and thumb to form a pincer grip to pick up items and hold them in their hand.

This because also if the subject is plural - babies - each one of them only has 1 of each finger per hand - You cannot refer to body parts in a collective way in this case otherwise it sounds like each baby has many fingers. The collective form is already expressed by the plural pronoun. Only hand in the example above could be written in the plural, signifying that babies can hold the toy in one hand or using both hands.

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Welcome, steppingstones. You really provided a lot of great context here!

However, please note that your three examples are actually all separate examples.

I mean that they require the plural and singular for three different reasons.

2) They will ride a tricycle by pushing along with their feet.

This requires the plural "feet" because a tricycle is usually ridden with two feet and not one foot.

Note also that "feet" already is the plural of "foot," so you don't need to say "feets."

3) They will have progressed to drawing circles, lines, and dots using their preferred hand.

Personally, I would use the singular form here because if it is their "preferred hand," I would assume it's the only one, ergo, "preferred."

And for examples 1A and 1B, I would agree that 1B is the better choice exactly for the reason that you had stated.

Meanwhile, welcome again to the English Language Learners Stack Exchange and thanks for your question!

  • Thank you very much. In sentences 2) and 3) by 'they' I mean 'babies' so would you still use hand not hands? And feet Also: Children will kick a ball using their whole body/their whole bodies. If a follow the 'rule' I would need to use bodies but it sounds wrong to me – steppingstones Mar 17 '17 at 14:29
  • @steppingstones, sorry, I only do this on weekdays, so sorry I hadn't responded sooner. In response to your questions, I would say that perhaps I hadn't been clear in my answer? I would not follow the rule in sentences 2 and 3 because the sentences are talking about specific actions that require a specific number of hands and feet. Following this logic, I would say that since we only have one body, you could make an argument for using "body" instead of "bodies," even if your subject is plural. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 20 '17 at 8:52

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