It might be a very simple question or even a silly one, but I am really a bit confused when saying "Open your books" while I am asking a group of kids to open a certain book(many students have one book or some books each).

Sometimes I say "Open your book", and it sounds quite OK.

For me, I want them to open their books which are many, but, for each kid, each one of them opens only one book.

Which sentence is more prevailing?


1) One student has one book = 'open your book'. (easy) 2) One student has many books = 'open your books'. (easy) 3) Many students have one book each = ???? 4) Many students have many books each = 'open your books' (easy)

In situation 3), we can say both 'open your book' (because each student has one book each) or 'open your books' (because there are many books in total), and there's not much to choose between them. Google Ngram Viewer doesn't help. I don't think there's a answer on this one. I would probably say 'open your books', because there are many books.

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  • I am talking about "situation 3)" and "situation 4)", thank you. – dennylv Feb 13 '15 at 1:36
  • @dennylv In situation 3, either expression would be acceptable (i.e. neither one would seem "wrong" to a native speaker). – pyobum Feb 13 '15 at 1:43

The plural

Class, open your books or
Students, open your books or
Everyone, open your books

is preferable. You would say this even for just two students. The concept is that you are giving a plural command. Also, from your point of view, what are you seeing is more than book being opened, so books makes sense.

We usually reserve a singular for something like

Okay, everybody, raise your hand if you know the answer.

This makes it clear you want each student to raise only one hand.

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Speaking to more than one person:

Open your books.

your as used here is plural, since it refers to a group of kids you are speaking to.
So you should stick with plural, books.

But if one student was daydreaming, you could turn to that student and say:

Open your book.

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