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Mensch und Familie legen in den meisten Fällen nach individuellen Vorlieben Regeln zum Gebrauch der Strassen- oder Hausschuhe fest.

Mut zur Lücke (B2-C1 Niveau)

Why do we say "Mensch und Familie" in the above? In the book this was an exercise, and I wrote "Menschen und Familie". When I checked on Reverso, both seem to be used.

Example:

  1. Menschen und Familie:

    1.1. Sehr viel von jungen Menschen und Familien am Sonntag besucht.

    1.2. Unsere Gedanken sind bei den von dem Anschlag betroffenen Menschen und Familien.

  2. Mensch und Familie

    2.1. Mensch und Familie - Englisch Lernen - Vokabelübungen

    2.2. „Die Gesamtheit von Unternehmen, Mensch und Familie ist der Leitgedanke unserer Beratung."mehr Informationen

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  • Without context this is difficult to answer. I would understand it as "a human and his/her family in general, not referring to specific persons, define the rules...", but I would probably not say it this way.
    – Bodo
    Commented Aug 7, 2023 at 15:50

1 Answer 1

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This is a stylistic feature that is named »Kollektivsingular« in German. The englisch term is »collective singular«. When you use this feature, you name an unspecific member of a group in singular, but you mean the whole group:

Das Haar von Susanne ist rot.
Susanne's hair is red.

Here you don't mean just one hair, but all hairs. Also in English you use singular: »Susanne's hair is red.« The plural is not wrong, but unusual: »Susanne's hairs are red.« (»Die Haare von Susanne sind rot.«)

Fisch ist gesund.
Fish is healthy.

Also hear you don't mean just one fish, but all fishes. The plural is again allowed but unusual: »Fische sind gesund.« = »Fishes are healthy.«

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  • So, how do we know whether to use collective singular or the plural?
    – Babu
    Commented Aug 7, 2023 at 18:35
  • @SBrian: As I said: Both is correct. Some native speakers prefer to use always plural, other prefer collective singular and a third group makes the choice depending on their actual mood. Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 15:07

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