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 a sentence lingering in my mind that I read somewhere, but the way I'm remembering it it doesn't sound right:

The averages have the power of invisibility.

Is this correct pluralization of 'average' as a noun?

share|improve this question
1  
... that is a common trap when measuring changes, but averages is correct in that context! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 19 '12 at 14:13
add comment

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, tchrist, jwpat7, Mahnax, Matt Эллен Aug 22 '12 at 12:35

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you have one average (of many scores, or of temperatures), then you use the word average in the singular. If you have more than one average (average temperature, average rainfall, average barometric pressure, e.g.), then you could refer to that set of numbers as a set of averages.

There's nothing wrong with the sentence in your question. You could remove the first word, too, if you wanted to refer to averages in general:

Averages have the power of invisibility.

share|improve this answer
add comment

While average is a general term referring to a central trend, there are several different types, such as mean, median and mode, and, like averages they all take conventional plurals: means, medians, modes.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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