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Why doesn't the word information take an "S" in English even if the meaning is "plural"?

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. There are more appropriate sites for basic questions, which, in English, this is. I'm almost certain that French must distinguish between mass nouns and count nouns, as the referents are universal. There may well be discrepancies between those nouns considered to be count and those considered to be non-count, in the grey areas. –  Edwin Ashworth Jun 25 '13 at 22:32
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Please proof-read what you write. People don't have to downvote "because they are born in UK or USA". They might be downvoting because you fail to so much as spell English correctly. It's really quite embarrassing. The sad thing is, the underlying question is actually quite interesting. But you present it in a rather disgraceful manner. If you expect people to put the minimum effort into their answers, please do put the minimum effort into your question. Thank you. –  RegDwigнt Jun 25 '13 at 22:37
    
@RegDwighт: If you're aiming to become a politician, I might almost be tempted to vote for you. Very diplomatic. –  Edwin Ashworth Jun 25 '13 at 22:39
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I'm sorry, I'm a programmer, I came from StackOverflow, I'm not used to write properly in English. thank you all for your advices. –  εEridani Jun 25 '13 at 22:42
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@Timmz The word advice is also a mass noun in English, not a count noun. And I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really don’t understand what being a programmer has to do with writing properly, or not. –  tchrist Jun 25 '13 at 22:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Because there is no such thing as a plural meaning of information. It’s not a count noun. Information is a mass noun, like air or water or rice or flour or courage. Or news.

You can only have less information, never *fewer information.

You can only have more information, never *many information.

And you can only have information, never several of *them.

Information is an it, never a they.

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Yes, but "water" is frequently pluralized. Usually in place names, of course, but here is a legitimate usage: "I have sailed these waters for my entire life, but I have never seen a mermaid." "Information" may be like "peace", in that it is a concept not a thing. Although "science" is a concept, yet we say "the sciences". –  Cyberherbalist Jun 25 '13 at 23:55
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Airs also is occasionally plural, and even rice or flour could take a plural form if talking about different types. "That store has such variety -- rices and flours galore!" –  bib Jun 26 '13 at 1:57
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Informations is sometimes used in criminal legal contexts, referring to several pieces of (usually incriminating) information. And it is also true that almost any mass noun can be used as a count noun -- and vice versa -- in one of several constructions with special uses and meanings. –  John Lawler Jun 26 '13 at 3:53

The answer to this depends on what you mean by English. In native-speaker norms, information is a non-count noun, so the convention is that information is both singular and plural. However, it is very common for English as lingua franca (ELF) users to add an 's'. This is viewed as 'error' by native-speakers (or those affected/infected by their notion of standard or norms, e.g. teachers, examiners) or traditionally classified as interlanguage (an incomplete state of language proficiency) or fossilised learning. A different interpretation is of the addition of 's' as a regularisation strategy or as Jenkins (2011) describes it 'redundancy reduction...[something] towards which the virtual English language is already predisposed.' In this regard, ELF speakers seem ahead of the curve (and many argue are already the drivers for change in the language).

A perfectly valid question for an English learner might be, why learn an exception such as mass/count noun plurals, when every speaker I meet will understand what I mean?

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Most uses of information are non-countable. However it should be noted that talking of a "countable noun" or "uncountable noun" are really an over-simplifications; nouns aren't countable or uncountable as a word, but as a sense.

One sense of information is a statement about criminal activity brought before a judge or magistrate. This sense is countable, and in this sense you can indeed have two or more informations.

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protected by tchrist May 25 at 18:00

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