There are a handful of grammar rules in the English language that are downright confusing. One of those is how to use the phrase “what kinds of”. But do you know when to use “what kind of” and “what kind of”? The truth is both can be correct depending on the context of the sentence. In this article, we’ll teach you how to use “what kinds of” with some helpful examples!
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“What Kinds Of” or “What Kind Of”?
The phrases “what kinds of” and “what kind of” are very similar with nearly identical meanings. As we learned in our analysis of greatful vs grateful, small spelling mistakes can make a big difference. Phonics & phonetics are other examples of similar words with different meanings. In fact, they are just one letter apart. By simply adding an -S you change the meaning and use of the entire phrase.
- “What kinds of” – A plural phrase, which means it is referring to more than one thing or looking for more than one answer.
- “What kind of” – A singular phrase, which means it is referring to one thing or looking for one answer.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re asking about more than one thing, then you would use “what kinds of.”
Takeaway: “What kind of” refers to a singular phrase, while “what kinds of” is plural and is answered with a plural noun or multiple answers.
How To Use “What Kind”
The phrase “what kind of” can be used when you are singularly asking about one thing.
- For example, you could say “What kind of car do you drive?”
This would be an appropriate use of the phrase if you are expecting a singular response about the type of car someone drives.
If, on the other hand, you wanted to ask about multiple things, you would not use the phrase “what kind of.” If you are looking for a single response to a question, you can use the phrase “what kind of.” Just like with the words play it by year or ear, it is very easy to make a spelling mistake.
How To Use “What Kinds”
The phrase “what kind of” is a great way to pluralize a noun and make it sound more like a question.
- For example, you could say “What kinds of cars do you drive?”
The plural form sounds more like you’re looking for multiple responses, which is often the case when you’re asking someone a question. Using the phrase “what kinds of” gives the person a chance to list the plural answer or multiple answers, rather than feeling pressure to choose just one.
- What kinds of things are you looking for?
- What kinds of people do you want to meet?
- What kind of music do you like?
- What kind of books do you like to read?
- I do not care what kinds of sports you enjoy playing.
- What kinds of websites do you enjoy the most?
- What kind of breakfast food do you enjoy the most?
Is This A Serious Rule
There are two main types of grammar: prescriptive and descriptive grammar. Although the grammar rules surrounding the phrase “what kinds of” are clear, native English speakers often use these words interchangeably in conversation.
However, spoken English and written English are two different things. You should avoid using slang or incorrect grammar in written communication. There is a difference between what is acceptable in casual conversation and more formal writing.
What Is An Uncountable Noun?
An uncountable noun is a word for something that we cannot count with numbers.
- For example, can you imagine trying to count how much air there is?
That’s why air is an uncountable noun. Other examples of uncountable nouns include:
We usually treat uncountable nouns as if they were singular, even if we’re talking about more than one thing. So we say “a piece of furniture” or “some information,” not “furnitures” or “informations.”
How Popular Is The Phrase “What Kinds Of”?
Google’s own Ngram data shows that the phrase “what kind of” is used more frequently than “what kinds of” in published writing. The popularity of the phrase “what kind of” increased significantly in the mid-1950s and continued to gain popularity until the early 2000s. However, just like we saw in our analysis of per your request meaning, the popularity of expressions can change with time. There is no way to accurately project which term will be used more by future generations.
Frequently Asked Questions
The word “kind” can be used to describe a variety of things, such as different types of animals or plants. For example, there are all sorts of different kinds of plants and animals in the world. Alternatively, the word “kind” can also be used to describe one particular type of something. For example, there are many different kinds of sugar.
Yes, “kinds” can be used as a plural when referring to different types or groups of things. For example, you could say “There are all kinds of books on the shelves.” Or you could say “what kinds of books are your favorite?”.
The word “type” is used to describe a group of things that share certain characteristics. For example, you might say “I only like type of chocolate.” The word “kind” is used to describe something in its entirety.
The phrase “What kind” is typically used when asking a rhetorical question, whereas “Which kind” is used when posing a more direct question. For example, if you were to say “What kind of person would do such a thing?” you would be indicating that you cannot imagine anyone doing such a thing – it’s a rhetorical question. Whereas, if you were to ask “Which kind of person would do such a thing?”, you would be asking for clarification on someone’s actions.
The Bottom Line
Now you should have a firm understanding of the difference between the phrases “what kinds of” and “what kind of”. These phrases are very similar but are NOT the same. “What kinds of” should always be used when you are looking for multiple answers or a plural noun as a response. Use our run on sentence checker if you need some extra help with this grammar rule. Pay close attention to this grammar rule in your writing to prevent making any silly mistakes!