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Context: There are two families. Family X have a car each, and Family Y also have a car each.

Can “two families have a car each” mean “A, B, C and D have a car each”?

I mean, families are regarded individually here. In this case, can each of families be also re-regarded individually?

Or can a collective noun be considered individually only when a collective noun is singular?

  • 1
    Families have a car is too brief a statement to be meaningful. Please supply a little context. Sep 7, 2021 at 11:31
  • Family X have a car each sounds as though each member of the family owns a car. Sep 7, 2021 at 12:38
  • @Kate Bunting Yes, I mean it. Sep 7, 2021 at 12:53
  • Does your diagram mean that A, B, C and D are individuals in families X and Y? The two families have a car each would probably be understood to mean that each family owns one car. To make it clear, you could say something like Everyone in families X and Y has their own car. Sep 7, 2021 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


If two families have a car each, each family has a car. That's to say there is a total of two families and two cars.

If A,B,C and D are involved, there are presumably more than two families concerned. Then you need to rephrase your question.

If all four families have a car each, then each of the four families has a car. There are now four families and four cars in total.

The number of families is not really relevant. The only question you need to ask is whether each family has a car.

If individual members of those families have their own cars, then the question is whether each member of the families has their own car.

If I have misunderstood your question, can you please make it a little clearer.

  • Thank you. No, it is enough, but I make my question clearer for the others. Sep 7, 2021 at 11:45
  • I thought a collective noun can be treated individually even when it’s a plural. Sep 7, 2021 at 11:52

No. "Two families have a car each" means just that and no more: there are two families, and each family has exactly one car. In this situation there are two cars.

If A, B, C, and D all have their own car, you must say

Two families have two family members each. Each member of each family has a car.

In this situation there are four cars.

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