His brother had always bested him at everything. He had this ease to make friends. He didn't need to try to get good grades either. Deep in John's heart, he knew even Mom admired him more. Saw more in his future. Worse of all, he was the better baseball player. John was older, stronger ! He had practiced pitching long before his brother could even hold his own spoon when eating ! John had been the favourite of the Junior's League, right from his start. And then Tom came along, with his small physique and broad smile.
Forty years later, and all that was left of Tom was this damned letter. John hadn't opened it, but knew its contents. His brother never understood failure. He had conquered the world, had been the youngest baseball player in history, turned games around. Money had come with the success too. And Laura... "Enough" echoed in John's attic. It had come out of his throat before he realised it. His hands shaking, he packed the last letter with the rest of the newspaper clippings. John climbed downstairs, fetched some wood from the shed.
John burned all that he had left of his brother. Newspapers and letter. The weight was turning to ashes now.
[ok I was bored and that image came to my mind, so I had to share. I've got to agree with Marcio3469 here, it's ambiguous but not incorrect. It certainly isn't worth being penalised for. Just like "The moose" how are we to guess it is singular or plural Duolingo ?]
Sometimes yes, sometimes no – we're probably going to have to remove this sentence: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5745394 soon because it doesn't seem acceptable to the native English-speaking ear…
I think the most special thing about English is all the regional variation, which certainly creates a mess for us sometimes.
I think the construction you're mentioning is a special one, I'm sure it's been described somewhere but I don't have a name for it… like you can say fish hook and line, there will be cases where you can do the same in Swedish, but in a fragment like this one, we will assume that brev is plural.