Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have seen the statements such as the following one in some literature:

"In the book 'XYZ' the word 'House' is never used in the plural."

To me the word 'THE' right before plural seems very wierd.

Would it be incorrect to write it like this?

"In the book 'XYZ' the word 'House' is never used in plural."

Why would the first one be better or correct?

share|improve this question
    
How 'bout ... the word "house" is never pluralized. –  Pete Wilson Jan 29 '12 at 18:47
1  
You may find my answer to the question about [Articles with general concepts][1] relevant [1]: english.stackexchange.com/questions/56251/… –  Barrie England Jan 29 '12 at 19:00
    
Ok. Maybe my question should actually be why is plural regarded as a noun. Isn't plural a state of something, in other words an adjective. –  Michael Frey Jan 29 '12 at 19:08
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Plural exists as both noun and adjective, and it seems to me that here it's not clear which it is. A case could be made for plural being an adjective and not a noun, the meaning being "the plural form." If so, it would be what the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language calls a fusion of functions, where the one adjective functions as both modifier and head in the noun phrase. This is fairly common and can be seen in examples like "I'll take the green/small/other." Or from The New Colossus: "Give me your tired, your poor,..."

share|improve this answer
add comment

"The plural" is correct, because in this case, the word "plural" is referring to the grammatical plural form, which is a thing and so it warrants a noun. From the dictionary:

noun Grammar
5. the plural number.
6. a form in the plural.

share|improve this answer
add comment

This is just a general reference question; any dictionary should be able to tell you that "plural" can serve as either an adjective or a noun.

plural noun 5. the plural number. 6. a form in the plural.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.