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This is said by a native speaker presenter who is staying a weekend with a family where the son keeps lions as pets. She wants to understand why he does it and say:

What is it about a certain type of person that owning a cat or a dog isn't enough? Living with lions (see:16:10-16:18)

The part of the sentence "...certain type of person...." caught my attention. We normally make questions with this structure:

  • Why would a person do this?
  • Why does a person do that?

So, unlike above questions, why does she not simply say "...a person...", but emphasizes "....a certain type of person..."? Is she referring to his status, job etc by spefically using "a certain type of person"? What need the word "certain" refer to?

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  • For me that link says "Video unavailable -The uploader has not made this video available in your country". By the way, the grammar of the sentence you quoted is pretty bad. I doubt much thought went into it. Something like "who thinks that" needs to be inserted there. As quoted, it's not really grammatical. Certain here means "specific".
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 27 at 11:05
  • It might be pertinent to note that your transcription of the sentence might be wrong (I can't check this because of the bad link)- since she has a very thick Cockney accent. If you are going by the subtitles, they aren't always correct.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 27 at 11:21
  • @BillyKerr, Thanks for the comment. I checked the link. It works well with me, maybe it depends on the region. By the way, the name of the video is "Living With Lions For 72 Hours | Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over". Yes, she has a very thick Cockney accent. And mainly I go by the subtitles, but I also listened to this sentence many times. This is what she is saying.
    – Yunus
    Feb 27 at 12:00
  • I found it on another youtube channel here. Your transcription is correct, but it's not really grammatical. You have to understand that not everything that comes out of a native speakers mouth is necessarily grammatical. People are only human, and make mistakes.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 27 at 12:31
  • The whole sentence is pretty badly phrased, TBH. It's not an example of good English. I would perhaps rephrase this, something like "What makes a certain type of person think that owning a cat or a dog isn't enough?"
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 27 at 12:39

2 Answers 2

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The son obviously is the 'type of person' for whom 'a cat or dog isn't enough', so she refers to him as 'a certain type'. She is asking "What is it about people like him that makes them want to own 'big cats'?"

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    "a type of" usually takes a singular noun: "a type of person", "a type of dog", etc, even if it can refer to multiple items. If type is in plural, you'll often see the second noun in the plural "some types of people/dogs" although "some types of person/dog" is also correct.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 27 at 10:19
  • @Kate Bunting, Thanks for the answer. If she is referring to PEOPLE like him, then shouldn't she have said "...PEOPLE..." rather than "...PERSON"? For example: "What is it about a certain type of PEOPLE that owning a cat or a dog isn't enough?
    – Yunus
    Feb 27 at 12:05
  • Stuart has already explained this in his comment, which I read earlier and upvoted. Feb 27 at 12:33
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The phrase a certain type of person, although more-or-less synonymous with some people, suggests with the word "type" that a pathology of some kind is involved. I don't think "type of person" encompasses job or profession, or incidental circumstances, but goes to psychology and personality. That notion is underscored by "What is it about ...?" That's a delving question whose answer is not likely to be anything as obvious and reasonable as "he works in the publicity biz".

Why do some people want to own a dangerous exotic pet?

Why does a certain type of person want to own a dangerous exotic pet?

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