§ When writing a report for CELBAN Writing should headache, earache or sore throat be singular or plural?

Dear Friend,

In writing about Henoch Schonlein Purpura, an IEN with a family history with this disease wrote:

Symptomes of this disease are purpuric rashes all over the body, joint pain and cold like symptoms like headache, sorethroat and earache.

I asked, ” Do you understand why earaches and sore throats are plural?”

She replied, “I did research on, why do we use earaches or sore throats?  But I could not find the reason. So, can you please explain that to me? Thank you.

???????????I gave her an explanation and asked her to write a few sentences using headache, sore throat and ear ache in the singular and plural forms. She submitted the following:

  1. Mary has suffered from earaches since her second birthday.
  2. I have a headache this morning.
  3. Doctor prescribed an antibiotic for her sore throats.
  4. Joe has headache when he skip a meal.

Which is correct, and which is incorrect, and why?

She replied:

 I think I should correct these two sentences

  • Doctor prescribed an antibiotic for her sorethroat.
  • Joe has headaches when he skips a meal.

More examples

  • Mary took a Tylenol tablet for her headache.

She was right: 1 and 2 are correct, 3 and 4 are not. But why? Here is what I told her.

Thank you, for doing the research first before asking. This allows a deeper level of learning, when you do the research.

Earaches, headaches and sore throats are usually plural when they have been happening over a long time, for several years, several months or a lifetime.
  • Tommy has suffered from earaches since he was two.
  • Mildred experiences migraine headaches when it is her menstrual flow.
  • Ashley’s throat was swabbed after getting several sore throats.
On the other hand a person suffers from an earache, a headache or a sore throat (singular) as a recent event, or a present occurrence.
  • Tommy’s earache started at 2:00 am.
  • Mildred’s migraine headache is rated as 10 on the pain scale of 1-10 where 10 is the worst pain.
  • Ashley gargled with salt water for her sore throat.
So there is a clue about whether these symptoms should be singular or plural: time and tense. If it is in the past tense, then it is more likely to be plural from multiple experiences. But if it is recent past or present, then it would be singular from a present or continuous experience.  For example:
  • Doctor prescribed an antibiotic for her sore throat.
  • Doctor prescribed an antibiotic for her sore throats, since she has had them for the past two weeks.

These are the types of things learned during CELBANPrep Writing Level Two.

Would you like to test your skills? Submit 1-5 sentences using headache, earache or sore throat in the singular or plural form. I will let you know how you do.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Sincerely,

Kim

One response to “§ When writing a report for CELBAN Writing should headache, earache or sore throat be singular or plural?

  1. Pingback: When writing a report for CELBAN Writing should joint pain be singular or plural? | Dear Kim

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