I have come across this sentence:

WE, the Heads of State/Government of Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely, ...

from this link

I am wondering why "state/government" is singular. Ain't there 10 governments in total? so could you please help me to understand the choice?

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    Each Head is the head of only one state! Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 16:31
  • I know one head for one state, but I just don't know when to see things as an individual and when to see things as a group. For instance, from the start, "heads", we see it from a collective perspective, then "government/state", singular, we see it from an individual perspective, then the following "member states", "Association" and "nations", then we jump to the collective perspective again... I am so confused!
    – Elizabeth
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 16:45
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    "Head of state/government" is a fixed phrase. Its plural form is "heads of state/government".
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 17:12
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    The preposition "of" often licenses an uncountable sense for ordinarily countable nouns. For example, we rarely encounter "for an example" despite how countable examples typically are. Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


'Head of State' is a fixed phrase. Its plural is 'Heads of State'. France has a Head of State. Germany has a Head of State. They are the Heads of State of those nations.

  • thank you for your reply. Actually, I am still not convinced why the plural form should be 'Heads of State' not 'Heads of States'. Actually, I have been confused for a long time! Five years ago I asked a similar question, see the link below. I think 'Heads of States' could also mean the collection of the individual heads of each state in an association (similar to the first answer in the link) english.stackexchange.com/questions/340558/…
    – Elizabeth
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 14:52

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