1. What kind of car are you interested in?
  2. What kind of cars are you interested in?
  3. What kinds of cars are you interested in?

Is there any one that can’t be allowed to be said?

I would think that #1 could be possible, when the speakers, intending to buy a car, are in a shop which sells cars. And in #2, when it’s not the case as 1, plural cars are more reasonable, in my eye. In 3, for ‘cars’ is plural, it seems that plural ‘kinds’ can be used - but sounds somewhat strange. Can all three be said or not?


Your understanding of #1 is correct: someone shopping for a car is asked "what kind of car are you shopping for, family sedan, small commuting car, a big station-wagon or SUV?"

Statement #3 might apply to a situation where a collector is asked to list the range of vehicle types he likes to collect (racing cars, luxury cars, cars formerly owned by celebrities, etc).

Statement #2 might apply to a situation where a highly specialized collector, who collects only one kind of vehicle, is asked to say which kind that is (sports cars or luxury cars or cars whose body panels were made of soybeans...). The question assumes a single property will unite these cars into a class. The collector might say he collects "only vintage cars" but they could include vintage racing cars and vintage luxury cars and ...

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  • +1, but the person's interest might not just be in buying, so a plural is not limited to a wealthy collector. Like, an amateur auto mechanic who repairs or customizes cars for friends, but only those that he thinks are fun to work on, might be asked, "What kinds of cars ...?", to which he might reply, "I like to work on sports car and I'll do ordinary sedans, but I don't like to work on SUVs or minivans." Or someone might just like to read about cars, etc. – Jay Oct 20 '14 at 16:07
  • I hang out only with billionaires who have money to burn, and do not deign to include mechanics in my hypotheticals. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 20 '14 at 22:45

What kind of car are you interested in? - (The article 'a' is missing - because if you are a salesman asking a customer about his preference in car, you know that he is buying only one car. So it should be -

What kind of a car are you interested in?

Let's take another situation - you are a salesman attending a customer in a shop

You ask the customer

  1. What kind of a pen are you looking for? (You mean a ball-pen or a fountain pen etc)
  2. What kinds of pens are you looking for? (It's the same thing except it's plural)

So i think your example number 2 doesn't sound grammatical to me. Because i think there has to be an agreement between kind and car (It can't be kind and cars or kinds and car) So if the question is in singular then kind and car should be in singular and so it should be in plural if the question is in plural.

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  • Not so: What kind of pens/cars/etc would be appropriate if I know you intend to buy several items of the same kind. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 20 '14 at 23:37

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