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I'm not sure whether the plural form below would be correct.

Many public officials are seeking out ways to increase the populations of their towns.

At first, I thought that it would be better to use the plural form because it refers to the people that live in various towns.

However, if I consider the situation of people living in each town(there's no one who has his/her address here and there), I think it might be proper to use the singular form.

Could you tell me which form would be grammatically right?

Thank you for reading. ;)

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  • It doesn’t really matter how many people are in a population when deciding between using plural or singular “population”. What matters is how many populations are referred to in your sentence.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 7, 2021 at 15:23

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It should be populations in this instance because multiple officials are seeking multiple ways in multiple towns.

You can group multiple populations together and talk about them as one population for a particular purpose - for example, if there were a single project to increase the population over several towns and the results were to be measured for the combined population. But in this case, the officials might all choose different methods, meaning the individual population of each town may grow at different rates, in different ways. So, for the purpose of this exercise, you should continue to speak of them as plural populations to preserve their individuality.

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