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I have been reading many grammarian articles on generalising statements and the debate between using plural or singular with an indefinite article. Is it always preferable to use plural? Is it less desirable to use singular with an indefinite article? Or are both equally fine?

Take these 2 examples:

A college degree is not necessary for having a good job.

A college degree is not necessary for having good jobs.

Is "good jobs" preferable over "a good job"? Or are both fine? (note that "a good job" sounds better to me, but I am hesitating because the rule seems to be that plural is always preferable)

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    "Preferable" depends on how and why you're using a statement. Your first example would be how I expect people in my location to say the phrase. The second example would be what I would expect in an article discussing the value of college degrees (although I'm not convinced that I'd notice if the first example were used). Note that in my area it would be more common to hear, "A college degree isn't necessary for a good job."
    – JBH
    Nov 8, 2022 at 17:06
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    Idiomatically, it would normally be ...is not necessary to have a good job (even more likely, ...to get a good job), so your examples are a bit unlikely anyway. But the relevant principle here is "parallelism" - your second version would be very unlikely compared to the consistently plural College degrees are necessary for having good jobs. Nov 8, 2022 at 17:15
  • Where does The rule seems to be that plural is always preferable come from? I think either you've misunderstood something, or you've been misinformed. Nov 8, 2022 at 17:17
  • [grammar articles or articles by grammarian]. I think you perhaps misunderstand what is meant by a generality.
    – Lambie
    Nov 9, 2022 at 15:07

1 Answer 1

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A college degree was not necessary for me to have good jobs during the course of my working life. [generality with the idea of jobs]

  • A college degree may not be necessary for you to get a good job. [generality with the idea of a job]

  • A college degree may not be necessary for good jobs. [for people in general, a generality]

  • A good job is a great thing.

  • Good jobs usually pay well.

A generality depends on where in the sentence the word is placed and the overall meaning of the sentence.

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  • @Esther Feel free to correct typos.
    – Lambie
    Nov 9, 2022 at 15:05
  • I tried, but it wasn't 6 characters ;)
    – Esther
    Nov 9, 2022 at 15:07
  • @Esther Ahhh. Gees, the intricacies of the rules here sometimes get to me. :)
    – Lambie
    Nov 9, 2022 at 15:08

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