Singular or plural?

 

Q:

Can you tell me which of the following sentences is more appropriate/correct in writing:

  1. Companies doing e-commerce should apply for electronic signatures from the government.
  2. Companies doing e-commerce should apply for an electronic signature from the government.

Pauline
[email protected]

A:

Sentence 2 is the better sentence; even though there will be several signatures from the government, each company is applying for only one signature.

You could also say, to be perfectly clear:

(a)

A/ Any/ Each/ Every company doing e-commerce should apply for an/ its electronic signature from the government.

Or, to focus on the plural, you could say:

(b)

Companies doing e-commerce should apply for their electronic signatures from the government.

Adding the possessive adjective their to sentence (b) clarifies it.

These sentences could also be arranged with the phrase “to the government” coming right after “apply.”

A company doing e-commerce should apply to the government for an electronic signature.

Companies doing e-commerce should apply to the government for their electronic signatures.