Plurals Of Abstractions And Attributes

Plurals of abstractions and attributes often cause difficulty in scientific writing. Let us consider an example:

^ The mood of the child changed suddenly.

In the sentence above, would three children have three moods? Although it may seem logical to use the plural if you refer to more than one individual, idiomatic usage of abstractions (e.g., behavior, mood, curiosity) or attributes possessed in common (e.g., tolerability, efficacy) is to use the singular.

^ Incorrect: The stimulant drug clearly affected the behaviors of the mice.

Correct: The stimulant drug clearly affected the behavior of the mice. Incorrect: The treatment achieved marked efficacies in all patients. Correct: The treatment achieved marked efficacy in all patients.

Q Use the singular for abstractions and attributes possessed in common.

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