These striking facts have led us to consider one or another variety of parallel universe.

Shouldn't the word "universe" have been used in the plural?

  • 3
    In the original, "have" agrees with "many of the major developments in fundamental theoretical physics". Your abridgement replaces this subject with "[This] striking fact", which changes the meaning and makes the sentence ungrammatical.
    – user230
    Aug 2, 2013 at 15:13
  • @snailboat: Thanks for providing the context. Nate, you shouldn't ask a question like this with such meager context; at the very least, provide a link to where the sentence was found, so a proper analysis can be done.
    – J.R.
    Aug 3, 2013 at 1:11
  • @J.R. I appreciate sharing your opinion again. I'm trying to memorize some parts of so many different e-books and audiobooks. Unfortunately I haven't "tagged" sentences with their references in my mind, so when I recall them to write here, I can't be sure which sentence belongs to what reference (besides, I would like to rephrase some of them to an extent, so they may not resemble the context of the reference anymore).
    – user1555
    Aug 3, 2013 at 15:09
  • Nate: That's fine, but you can still at least attribute the sentence. That is, just include something like: "I was listening to an audio book (Rabbit at Rest by John Updike), and I heard this sentence...". Sometimes the correct interpretation of a sentence hinges on the genre – I might change the way I read a sentence about parallel universes, for example, depending on if the author was, say, Gene Roddenberry vs. Stephen Hawking. If you can't remember the book, just tell us you can't remember.
    – J.R.
    Aug 3, 2013 at 16:25

4 Answers 4


Either singular or plural universe is acceptable here.

Note that the author is not talking about universes but about varieties. When we speak of a variety or kind or category we are talking about ways to divide a set or class of objects.

The set or class may be referred to either by its set "name"—a singular attribute which is shared by all its members—or by its set "membership", a plural attribute which denotes all the members.

For instance:

A spaniel is one kind of dog. A collie is another kind of dog.
Spaniel and collie are kinds of dog - that is, categories of the set "dog".
Spaniel and collie are kinds of dogs - that is, categories of the set of all dogs.

  • 1
    I agree both are acceptable, but my gut reaction is to prefer the singular as in OP's citation. Your final two examples slightly confuse the issue. They have plural "kinds", where OP's example has singular "variety" (I don't think "one or another" affects the grammaticality here). Checking Google Books, I find 2830 instances of are a kind of dog, but only 47 instances of are a kind of dogs. So I feel vindicated in my position that for OP's context, the original singular universe is at least "better", even if the plural isn't strictly speaking "wrong". Aug 2, 2013 at 20:53
  • @FumbleFingers I think that there is probably "pressure" to make the class agree in number with the category Aug 2, 2013 at 21:35

Probably. The writer appears to be talking about the idea of parallel universes, plural. If he really means that he thinks there is exactly one parallel universe, then the singular is appropriate. I think technically that could be grammatically correct, but it's an odd construction.

Also, it should be "this striking fact HAS": "fact" is singular.


This striking fact is singular, so the verb should be has and not have.
This striking fact has...
Now, universe should be plural because of the word "parallel." It's hard for one object to be parallel. Parallel is a comparison of two or more objects. A tree cannot be parallel. A tree can be parallel to something else, like a telephone pole.

  • 1
    "I can imagine a parallel universe to our own".
    – The Photon
    Aug 3, 2013 at 0:18
  • In that case, a person would usually say, "I can imaging a universe parallel to our own." The phrase to our own modifies parallel, so the phrase must be placed close to it.
    – Wally
    Aug 5, 2013 at 11:43
  • Sure. But it's still singular. It's like, for someone to be a "friend", he must have some other person that he is befriending. But that doesn't mean that it is meaningless to use "friend" in the singular. "Bob and I are friends." "Bob is my friend."
    – Jay
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:42

The word "universe" has no plural form since its definition is "all containing, everything". You can't have multiple "everythings" and the author should have used a word like multiverse.


You must log in to answer this question.