Consider the singular use of "a sentence" in this statement:

This is a question about the origin of "pretty" as an adverb in
a sentence like "that's pretty good" or a phrase like "pretty much"

I'm confused as to which form is more accurate to use here , the singular or the plural.

My understanding is that saying "in sentences like" here implies that "there are a lot of similar sentences but here is a sample sentence."
and saying "in a sentence like" implies that "the sentence I'm going to mention is noteworthy , so I'm going to analyze it now."

Am I correct ?

  • 2
    See this ELU answer making the point that She always dreamed of men like you and She always dreamed of a man like you are equivalent and interchangeable. You're overanalysing things by trying to imagine some distinction of nuance that simply doesn't exist. Apr 2, 2020 at 14:42
  • Right , I was just trying to figure out the logic behind each use . As for "she always dreams of men like you" , it doesn't really make sense to me because usually one dreams of one person with specific attributes and not many people as the sentence implies , I would assume that it's used informally .
    – Mohammad
    Apr 2, 2020 at 15:25
  • I don't think your "explanation" there accurately reflects what's going on in such constructions. The actual words in something like She always dreams of men like you imply nothing whatsover about whether she normally dreams about multiple men simultaneously, or just one at a time. But She always dreams of a man like you strongly implies that she always dreams about the same man, so that one is different. It's got nothing to do with formal / informal, though. Apr 2, 2020 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


Yes, on the first part. The word "like" is essentially informing you that there are many similar sentences, but this one is an example.

It does use the singular, but it would also be accurate to say, "adverbs in sentences like..." The thing to keep in mind here is that the two subjects of the sentence ("adverb" and "sentence") must agree in tense. They must both be singular or plural, since they work together.

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