I read the following two sentences. I am not sure why the singular form pf word is used in the first sentence, but the plural form is used in the second sentence.

Sentence 1:

To gain a large share of their information about and their understanding of the world from the written word.

Sentence 2:

A certain amount of the information was acquired through the spoken words and through observation.

Is there are more examples? What is this pattern called?

1 Answer 1


The written word is an expression referring to language can be read, whether on paper, computers, stone, clay or any similar medium. It does not refer to any specific words but rather to the manner of conveying the language - by writing words down.

The spoken words, as opposed to the spoken word, is a reference to specific words. It means that words that were spoken by someone, whatever those words might have been.

The spoken word, on the other hand, like the written word refers to the manner of communicating rather than any specific words.

Thus you could say the spoken word is more persuasive than the written word, referring to the manner of delivering a message.

To say the spoken words were more persuasive than the written words refers to particular words.

It's the difference between the general statement the dog makes an excellent pet (referring to the species of animal) and a statement that refers to specific animals the dogs make excellent pets.

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