Our soldiers (a)/ were better trained (b)/ than that (c)/ of enemies. (D)

This sentence is from an error spotting exercise. A friend of mine suggested to me to change that to those in part C but isn't the part D also wrong? I guess it should be possessive of enemies that ie either enemy's or enemies'.

  • 3
    The original sentence seems to have multiple errors. I would write "...than those of the enemy" or "...than the enemy's", but both of those involve multiple changes. If the exercise said there could be multiple errors, then that's OK, I guess.
    – stangdon
    Nov 3, 2017 at 17:56
  • 3
    that refers to [the] soldiers [of enemies] - which is plural, so it should indeed be plural Our soldiers were better trained than those of enemies. Idiomatically, almost all native speakers would include some kind of "determiner" before enemies (I'd usually expect our enemies), and only full context would establish whether the plural is acceptable (I'd usually expect ...than those of our/the enemy). To be honest, I suspect your example question text was set by a non-native speaker. The possessive apostrophe is completely inappropriate with that / those of. Nov 3, 2017 at 18:04
  • It would be enemys' not enemy's because of [our] enemies is plural. Nov 3, 2017 at 18:10
  • @FumbleFingers What about such a sentence: Our soldiers were better trained than the ones of the enemies' ? Does an apostrophe fit in here? Nov 4, 2017 at 0:01
  • @WeatherVane for correct spelling it must be either enemies' or enemy's, depending on whether there are many or one enemy. But as noted by FumbleFingers this doesn't look like a question set by a native speaker.
    – James K
    Nov 4, 2017 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


The correct form would be:

Our soldiers were better trained than those of the enemies.

But I think it would be more natural to say:

Our soldiers were better trained than our enemies'.

  • Assuming multiple enemies. Jan 6, 2018 at 21:56

As we can not determine how many enemies (one enemy or a few enemies), part D should be considered correct grammatically.

Because there are a few soldiers, so part C is incorrect because it's not in plural form.

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