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Which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. The monthly income of households in the first and tenth groups differed by HK$101,230.
  2. The monthly incomes of households in the first and tenth groups differed by HK$101,230.

The sentence means that the monthly income of the first group and that of the tenth group differed by HK$101,230. It seems to me that the 2 is correct because "differ" does not make sense when the subject is singular i.e. "A differs by $10" does not make sense while "A and B differ by $10" makes sense.

Moreover, which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. Compare the income of the same group in 2006 and 2016
  2. Compare the incomes of the same group in 2006 and 2016

The sentence asks to compare the income of a group in 2006 and that of the same group in 2016. Thank you.

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While both 1 and 2 are grammatical, 2 implies that households had more more than one income. So unless this is your intention, stick with sentence 1.

Take a comparable situation.

The income of wealthy groups differs from that of deprived groups by a factor of three.

We know that the different groups earn different amounts of money. But all these earnings are grouped under the concept of income, which is regarded here as a non-count noun.

The same reasoning applies to your second examples.

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  • I disagree with this answer. Multiple households do indeed have multiple incomes, so it should be plural. Though one could (and should, for clarity) say “The average monthly income of households in the first and tenth groups differed by HK$101,230”, because a group of households only has one average income.
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 6 '20 at 10:52
  • There is certainly room for disagreement. I think that both are valid, depending on whether you are envisage incomes as plural units or average income in the sense of total. Comparable to the average crowd at football games or the average crowds. Sep 6 '20 at 12:54
  • Thank you for your replies.
    – Jamie
    Sep 7 '20 at 9:38

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