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(1) Dogs are different colors.

(2) The dog is the color yellow.

(3) Dogs are of different colors.

I don't know why (1) is possible (possibly because my native language is Japanese). (1) looks as strange as (2) to me. Is (3) grammatically correct?

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  • What do you think (1) means?
    – Stuart F
    Nov 9, 2023 at 22:28
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    My native language is Chinese, and I'm also confused by (1). It suggests that a dog is a color like saying an apple is an orange.
    – ElpieKay
    Nov 10, 2023 at 3:13
  • @Stuart F Dogs are of various colors.
    – Kaguyahime
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:20

2 Answers 2

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(1) is okay and understandable, but "have" might be a better verb to choose.

There is a sense overlap between "being a colour" and "having a colour". With colour names it is best to use "be": "The dog is yellow". Remeber that in English the adjective "yellow" is also used as a noun "yellow" (you don't need to say "yellow colour" or "colour yellow" in most cases.

Because of this sense overlap, "Dogs have different colours" is possible, as is "Dogs are different colours", and so is "Dogs are of different colours."

However the example is rather artificial, as the fact is rather obvious (and so unlikely to be stated) Perhaps you'd say something more emphatic like "Dogs aren't all the same colour!" if you needed to remind someone of this fact. It is always difficult to discuss what is "natural" in an expression that is artificial like this. However (as suggested below) "Dogs come in different colours" is possible.

Swans come in different colors

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    Thank you very much, James. I think "Swans are different colors" might be a slightly more likely sentence than "Dogs are different colors" is.
    – Kaguyahime
    Nov 9, 2023 at 12:00
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    Another common way to say it is "Xes come in different colors". This is often used for objects like clothing -- "Shoes come in different colors"
    – Barmar
    Nov 9, 2023 at 15:10
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Dogs are different colors. [okay]

The dog is yellow. [a specific dog you are talking about]

Dogs are different colors or come in different colors.

I would not say: of different colors here.

Persons, animals and things are described often in English using the verb be.

We would not say the color yellow unless the context was not obvious.

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