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I had thought "Make Our Life easier" was wrong and that I should use the plural form, "Make Our Lives easier" but I find I see the form "Make Our Life ..." from time to time, e.g. How to Make Our Life Wonderful.?

Everything that happens in our life is a random process and nothing is fixed ever which discards the very notion of 'finding that special thing which you are meant to do'. Life will throw a hell lot of things at you ...

or the book "Meditations to Make Our Life Happy and Meaningful"

Why does the singular form "make our life ..." work too?

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  • 2
    Given the title (How to Make Our Life Wonderful.?), I would consider that person is not using life correctly.
    – apaderno
    Dec 3, 2023 at 9:37
  • 2
    A married couple could say Throughout our married life, we have faced problems.
    – apaderno
    Dec 3, 2023 at 9:39
  • 1
    This reminds me of the royal "we" where we, us, or, here, our refer only to one person (historically a person of royalty). In that case, "our life" applies to only one person's life. However, if "our" is actually meant as to have the normal plural meaning, then it seems clear by basic rules of grammar that the plural "lives" should also be used.
    – Nate
    Dec 3, 2023 at 9:45
  • @apaderno thanks for the comments and the answer. I also updated my question to quote a sentence from that article. Dec 3, 2023 at 12:43
  • 1
    It depends on whether you mean us as a group or a family unit. A family unit or couple can have a life together and but they each have separate lives as well. Context is everything.
    – Lambie
    Dec 4, 2023 at 15:39

5 Answers 5

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Why does the singular form "make our life ..." work too?

People who share their lives together can use our life. For example, a married couple could say:

Throughout our married life, we have faced problems.

Our family life is great.

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There are many people but we each only have one life. This means it is a situation of multiple possession. Compare with "We all own a car" (does it mean we have one car each, or that we share a car) or "We all own cars" (does it mean we each own multiple cars?).

So there are tricky decisions to make with multiple ownership, and often there isn't a right answer. In your examples, however, "lives" would have been better, and certainly would be the choice in a non-religous context. However in the context of a religion that claims that we each have multiple lives, the context and grammar is more obscure, and the authors may have been trying to make a point about the one life that we are living now, and not any of the other lives in the future or past. Or it may just be sloppy writing.

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  • Upvoted. Your answer brought me memories from primary school, when I was learning grammar and it jarred me to realise that grammar offered no good way to distinguish between all these possibilities.
    – Stef
    Dec 4, 2023 at 10:56
  • We all have a car : 1 shared. We all have cars: at least 1 each. We each have a car: 1 car each. We each have cars: sounds a bit clunky, haha.
    – Simon H
    Dec 4, 2023 at 15:28
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    "Or it may just be sloppy writing." looking at the page, and the capitalisation and punctuation, I think you might be on to comething
    – Simon H
    Dec 4, 2023 at 15:34
  • @SimonH "Or it may just be sloppy writing." that is exactly what I thought but English is not my native language and that guy claimed to be "CEO at Ethos Assets" so I thought could that be the case? Thanks for pointing that out. lol Dec 5, 2023 at 2:56
  • @Qiulang邱朗 Bear in mind that "our life" as cited in your question can mean the author sees the audience and herself/himself as being a "we" in "Everything that happens in our life.
    – Lambie
    Dec 6, 2023 at 4:33
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A married couple or any close companions could say "our life," in the same sense as "our home." It is a single thing they share. In that sense life would not mean the lifespan of a creature, but the journey they walk and the sum of all the things they build together.

In your example, however, where the author is referring to the singular life possessed and experienced by each individual person, I judge that the usage is incorrect. He would do better to say,

Meditations to Make Our Lives Happy and Meaningful

or

Meditations to Make One's Life Happy and Meaningful

or best of all (with salesmanship):

Meditations to Make Your Life Happy and Meaningful

It appears the book may be a translation by a non-native English speaker, so the awkward usage is not too surprising.

It is marginally possible that the author is expressing "Our Life" in the mystical sense of a unified living experience, undergone by the human race as a collective, singular spiritual entity. In this obscure sense he might be using the phrase in the same way as a married couple, and be "technically correct." But as the title of a self-help or self-enlightenment book as it is presented, it reads as a mistake.

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I'm not an English teacher,and I've not thought about it before, but I am a native English speaker. Here are my thoughts:

If you say make our life easier,it implies that we have a collective life, or at least a collective experience. eg, you could imagine in an office or domestic setting someone saying "It would make our life easier if...".

Having said that, lives would still be more common.

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For a family unit or couple or even friends:

This advice has made our life better. [life is viewed as a unit]

This advcie has made our lives better. [viewed as separate individuals in a unit]

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  • But in the two examples I quote they seem not to be the case you said. So I would assume they used it wrong. Dec 5, 2023 at 1:59
  • @Qiulang邱朗 I explained the difference in meaning and I did not say either was wrong. our life=a shared experience, our lives, viewed as individuals lives. Please explain to me how is that not clear?
    – Lambie
    Dec 5, 2023 at 15:57
  • Your explanation is clear. What I meant was that in those two examples I quoted I felt they did not mean a shared experience (checking from their contexts) so I feel they used it wrongly. Dec 6, 2023 at 3:45

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