Barszczow A. N. (orpheus_samhain) wrote in linguaphiles,
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FRENCH: plural or singular

A sentence like this:

Un des passangers tombe sous un wagon de métro et meurt.

my teacher corrected like this:

Un des passanger tombe sous un wagon de métro et meurt.

I don't understand why. In all the languages that I know it doesn't make sens logically. It's one of the passengers, one of many, so why singular? She couldn't explain it to me, just said that it's ok.
Tags: french
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April 29 2014, 11:04:15 UTC 10 months ago

What is your teacher's background? " Passanger" isn't a surname, which is the only circumstance I know of in which there would be a singular noun in this context


April 29 2014, 11:11:41 UTC 10 months ago

she's French, actually.


April 29 2014, 12:56:06 UTC 10 months ago

You know when it comes to grammar, native speakers are not always the best teachers, specifically if they teach their own native language as a foreign language. :)

I would say : "Un des passangers", with an 's' at the end of the noun. Also: It should be "passager'" in French not "passangers".


April 29 2014, 14:24:05 UTC 10 months ago

Well, that's true :)

Thank you!


April 29 2014, 11:12:18 UTC 10 months ago

This word spells 'passager' in French. If the teacher didn't correct the spelling, maybe she's unsure about French in general?


April 29 2014, 11:15:36 UTC 10 months ago

She's French, actually O.O And yes, you're right. I've written it correctly earlier in the text, but in this sentence not. Maybe she was tired, or something, I don't know. [and I've misspelled the English word, too, now corrected]


April 29 2014, 11:38:02 UTC 10 months ago

I'm not French, so I used Google search, and it shows that the variant with plural is far more often, yet the variant with singular does exist, too.

Feeling embarrassed)


April 29 2014, 14:20:32 UTC 10 months ago

I had a quick look at the results of both searches, both on and .fr, and it seems that the singular version is an error. It's mostly two or three articles on plane crashes, copy-pasted by the other sites, and they made crowd this way :)

My teacher was probably tired and as sidheag said: Maybe the spelling error set off her "something is wrong" sensor but she was tired enough to misidentify what.

Thank you!


April 29 2014, 11:39:43 UTC 10 months ago

This search for your version

yields about 12 million results, while hers

yields only 178,000 or so. That's enough to suggest that her version exists, though, which surprises me - I hadn't come across it.


April 29 2014, 11:42:09 UTC 10 months ago

Your version spelling-corrected, that is. Maybe the spelling error set off her "something is wrong" sensor but she was tired enough to misidentify what. Now I must get back to my pile of marking :-)


April 29 2014, 14:20:59 UTC 10 months ago

I think this is it :) Thank you!


April 29 2014, 13:34:15 UTC 10 months ago

I looked for various modifications of the phrase in Google's French corpus, but all it could find was "un des passagers". All the other variations came up as "not found". Ngrams

Perhaps the results you found are typos, or maybe this is a new trend that has picked up since 2000.


April 29 2014, 14:23:13 UTC 10 months ago

This convinces me. The errors are less likely to occur in printed books, as they are still checked, better or worse, but still. The internet news are not reliable when it comes to grammar or spelling.

Thank you!


April 29 2014, 15:41:28 UTC 10 months ago Edited:  April 29 2014, 15:50:14 UTC

Hey! I'm French and felt the need to comment. Your teacher got confused, it's "un des passagers".

nb : The verb takes a singular form, unless you have a "subordonnée relative" (for example "un des passagers qui étaient sur le quai du métro") in which case it would take a plural form :)


April 29 2014, 20:38:14 UTC 10 months ago

+1 from another french person.


April 29 2014, 22:16:26 UTC 10 months ago

Thank you :)


April 29 2014, 22:16:13 UTC 10 months ago

Thank you :)


April 29 2014, 23:54:11 UTC 10 months ago

Un des passanger tombe sous un wagon de métro et meurt.

From a third French : un des passagerS..... :) seeing it without the S shocked me, maybe your teacher has lived too long in your country and starts to forget her own language... it happens.....


April 30 2014, 22:32:55 UTC 10 months ago

Thank you!


May 1 2014, 06:49:37 UTC 10 months ago

Apart from anything else, why would it be 'des' if the noun following wasn't in the plural?