I am bit confused of the singular or plural choice when it comes to the belonging relation of two things when using the X of A and B.

I'd like to express that A and B both own the same type of uncountable or singular countable property. A naive example wound be

The climate of country A and the climate of B is/are(?) different.

Does the contraction affect the choice?

The climate of country A and B is/are(?) different.

How about the property is countable but A and B each has only one.

The president/presidents(?) of country A and B is/are(?) different.


These sentences are not very colloquial. For example, we would normally say

Chile's climate is different from Peru's.


The climate of Chile is different from that of Peru.

If we HAD to (!), we might say

The climate of Chile and the climate of Peru are different.


The climates of Chile and Peru are different.

I wonder if you have been taught that 'climate' is not countable. It IS.

Your 'president/presidents' example is no different! We would say,

Chile and Peru have different presidents.

or perhaps

The presidents of Chile and Peru are different.

  • Yeah I agree they're bad examples but you get the point. Thanks! Could I confirm that the same <uncountable object> of <two different owners> should be followed by `are'?
    – Albert
    Nov 14 '19 at 19:11
  • No, Albert! Your structure is wrong. You can only use "are" after a plural. Uncountable nouns don't have plurals!!! Please look at my answer: the examples show you what we would normally say. Let's try substituting the genuinely uncountable noun sugar. "The sugar of Jo and Mo ARE..." is WRONG. You can say, "Jo's sugar is different from Mo's", or "Jo and Mo have different sugar." You CAN'T say that the same uncountable noun of two different people "ARE....". Please give up! :-) Nov 15 '19 at 3:45
  • I can see where you're coming from...I got that bit. But I found myself often in the need of writing a uncountable property separately owned by two abstract things (not people that allow me to use 's), especially in academic writing. For example, the reactivity of substance A and B...Do you mean this structure should never appear? Above all, so grateful for answering my question!
    – Albert
    Nov 16 '19 at 20:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.