There was a sentence in an IELTS book written by Mat Clark:

Understanding a culture has more implications. Differences in social background, cultural values and religious belief might make the discrepancy of foreigners and local inhabitants on some issues indelible.

Differences are at least between two things, for example, two beliefs or two backgrounds.

Shouldn't all the bold words be plural?

  • In your last 15 questions you have only accepted 2 answers
    – Stumbler
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


The sentence is correct. You are right that a difference, or a comparison, is between at least two things, but your example is counting the differences, not the "things" which have differences. As "differences" is already plural there is no need to pluralise everything else.

A common example is the phrase "a difference of opinion". If two people have a difference of opinion then logically there must be two different opinions, there is only one difference. If more people were involved, or multiple opinions you might say either "differences of opinion" or "different opinions".

  • 1
    Is it a matter of choice whether to use plural or singular in this paragraph or one of them is only correct?
    – Masih K
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 8:46
  • @MasihK Your example is a list with 'AND', so there are many differences. If you were suggesting that there would be only 1 difference from that list, you'd use OR.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:04

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