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Should "materials" and "processing agents" be plural or singular after "any" in this sentence?

English Language Learners Asked by Figgs on December 9, 2020

  1. The products do not come into contact with any materials or processing agents that contain gluten.

VS.

  1. The products do not come into contact with any material or processing agent that contains gluten.

Which phrase is better? Why? The goal is to state that these products are gluten-free.

My boss actually changed my first sentence into the second one, and I am trying to understand why.

3 Answers

Both sentences are correct, but the second one with "material" and "agent" in singular sounds simpler to me. To make sense, the sentence needs to be in the present perfect tense, though:

The products have not come into contact with any material or processing agent that contains gluten.

Answered by Jan on December 9, 2020

If I were a consumer, and I read either of the two examples, I would suspect the product contained gluten. Why? Because the the label, as Shakespeare might have written, “doth protest too much.”

“This product is gluten-free” is perfect. I would believe that.

Answered by Gregory Morris on December 9, 2020

I think in processes the products did not contact the materials or agent that contain gluten. It may be better to say In our processes the products did not contact the materials or agents that contain gluten. But I need more information.

Answered by Seikimatsuhasha on December 9, 2020

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