General Writing and Grammar Help/Usage of the word "norms"

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Question
Dear Ted,
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the definition of the word "norms" is the following: generally accepted standards of social behavior. Can you use the word "norms" in the singular? In other words, does the following sentence make sense and is it grammatically correct?
"China has many strange norms; the strangest norm is parents expect blind obedience from their children.

Answer
Dear Glen:

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the definition of
the word "norms" is the following: generally accepted standards of social
behavior. Can you use the word "norms" in the singular? In other words, does the
following sentence make sense and is it grammatically correct?
"China has many strange norms; the strangest norm is parents expect blind
obedience from their children.

*** Yes, it is a singular word.  Your sentence is correct.  A "norm" refers to the "average" of some set of things.  It can also mean "the accepted standard."

For instance --

If the voting in next Tuesday's United States elections follows the norm, 97% of black people will vote for Democrats.  [The "norm" is based on the average of a number of U. S. elections.]

Years ago, a family sat down together to eat dinner.  That was the norm.  Today, however, most family members eat at their own times, and the dinner table is used only for special occasions.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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