“Check out the brain on Brad”

You’ve only got one brain, even if you’ve got a lot of brains. Uh?

It depends on whether you’re talking about a high IQ or the physical orgain in the central nervous system.

  • the brain is the organ, inside the skull. You’ve only got one of those.
  • someone intelligent can be referred to as having brains or a lot of brains

In colloquial speech, the “brains” of an individual could be used, though. Or, shall we say, a gory description in crime writing or the famous accidental gunshot scene in the same film…

Prevalence: low. Not the kind of thing that comes up terribly often, outside medical and biology texts.
Frequency: high. Dutch uses a plural word (hersens or hersenen) in both cases and so Dutch writers tend to talk about a person’s “brains” in the plural as the organ.
Native: hmm. Not in any technical or scientific document, but see the note on colloquial speech above.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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