Which of these two is grammatically correct?

Who were some famous artists who had famous fathers?


Who were some famous artists who had a famous father?


Who were some famous artists who had ordinary lives?


Who were some famous artists who had an ordinary life?

  • 2
    Which famous artists lived an ordinary life? - I'd prefer this. – Maulik V May 9 '16 at 7:57
  • 1
    Name some cars with wooden steering wheels. We could use the plural in the modifying clause, even though a car has only one steering wheel. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 9 '16 at 10:08
  • 1
    @TRomano Name some fruits that have a hard core. In this example I prefer the modifying clause to be singular. Do you think there's no hard and fast rule? – ktm5124 May 9 '16 at 13:56
  • Another example. Who were some artists who made an important sculpture? Who were some artists who made important sculptures? The meaning is slightly different, but both sound correct. – ktm5124 May 9 '16 at 14:01
  • @ktm5124: I don't think there's any hard and fast rule, no. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 9 '16 at 15:02

Summary from comments included.

All are correct.

The examples you cite illustrate the ambiguity of the rules of English grammatical construction in certain edge cases.

The central issue of your question is whether modifying clauses should be singular or plural when the object of the clause is singular (by inference) but the object which the clause modifies is plural. In other words, when deciding modifier plurality, which object controls?

The discussion in the comments suggests no hard and fast rule exists. I agree.

What the writer or speaker chooses will be a matter of subjective preference coupled with contextual reasoning. In your examples, I think all are correct. Or, perhaps more accurately, none can be proven incorrect.

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