This tag applies to questions that deal with grammatical number: “singular” versus “plural”, and (rarely) also “dual”.

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21
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7answers
3k views

Which style of Latin plurals should I use?

Many Latin words in English have both Latin-style plurals and English-style plurals: referendum – referendums, referenda. minimum – minimums, minima. gymnasium – gymnasiums, gymnasia. ...
20
votes
4answers
32k views

What is the plural form of “Software”?

Is it correct to use "softwares"? For example: There are various video conversion softwares in the market.
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Plurality of numbers between -1 and 1

If I recall correctly, the Académie française states that, for French, quantities comprised within [-1,1] are singular, and anything else is plural. This means, for instance, that we should say (in ...
20
votes
6answers
5k views

“None” as plural indefinite pronoun

In my grammar book (English Grammar, HarperCollins Publishers), I read that none is occasionally treated as plural, but it is usually regarded as singular. Can you give me an example of sentence where ...
20
votes
9answers
936 views

The hidden flaw in “singular they”—what to do about reflexive pronouns?

We have a highly regarded answer by nohat to a question about gender-neutral pronouns, in which he points to the "singular they" and its long history of use in English. (Note that he also advises ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Americans can eat Chinese, but Chinese can't eat Americans?

No offence!! Please take it just for knowledge. I heard one of my friends saying Americans can eat Chinese but Chinese can't eat Americans. He said so for fun, and everybody was just laughing. But I ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

New Zealand pronunciation of “women” vs “woman”

I have read in a number of places that the NZ pronunciation of "women" must be rather peculiar. Quoting from just one such place: For some years I've noted the tendency of Kiwis to pronounce ...
20
votes
2answers
112k views

“Any” followed by singular or plural countable nouns?

This question has troubled me for ages despite my several attempts of looking it up in dictionaries or usage books. Do we say, "Do you have any ideas" or "Do you have any idea"? I do see an example ...
20
votes
2answers
514 views

Use of lone apostrophe for plural?

I've been reading William Manchester's book "American Caesar", which is about Douglas MacArthur, and I found that he uses a strange convention for pluralizing the family name. When talking about the ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the plural of “chewing gum”?

What's the plural of "chewing gum"? Hearing "do you have any chewing gums?" sounds wrong; I would say "do you have any chewing gum?", but looking it up, there seems to be a bit of confusion on ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

Why did they spell it “URL’s”?

I was reading this documentation file of some software and note the plural spelling of this abbreviation is “URL’s”. Why isn’t it “URLs”?
19
votes
6answers
6k views

How do I pluralize a name ending in “y”?

Frequently when I refer to or address a family, I do so by pluralizing their last name, e.g., The Smiths, or The Ramones. But suppose I want to address a family whose last name ends in a "y", e.g., ...
19
votes
5answers
6k views

“What an idiot!” in plural form

There is a phrase "What an idiot!". How should it be used for a group of people? Looks like "What idiots" doesn't have same emotional meaning.
19
votes
4answers
39k views

What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question)

When writing (a blog post, script, etc..) what is the proper way to indicate two or more instances of a single letter? For instance, in Monty Python's Bookshop Sketch: C: I wonder if you might ...
19
votes
3answers
7k views

“There Is”/“There are” depends on plurality of the first list element or not?

It seems I put a stick in the anthill at ELL. Bounty assigned by outside party, two lengthy, reference-citing answers, one "-1" (awarded the bounty), one "-2", two others scored "0" and "-2" ...
18
votes
6answers
5k views

Is “the USA” singular or plural?

On the one side, the USA is just one country. Logic says it should be, then, singular, just like the United Kingdom is. Example: The USA owns this domain. On the other side, if I however expand ...
18
votes
5answers
97k views

Is using “fruits” as the plural of “fruit” acceptable?

I've always understood the plural of fruit to be fruit, not fruits. I was looking at some marketing material and they used the word "fruits" in the following context: A unique infusion made with ...
18
votes
2answers
6k views

Correct plural form of a zero quantified noun

When using zero as a quantifier, is it correct to use the singular form on the object of the quantifier, or the plural form? It sounds confusing when I put it that way, but what I mean is: Which is ...
18
votes
6answers
9k views

Time and tide wait for no man

In the old proverb: Time and tide wait for no man. Our first record of the proverb is from St Marher in 1225: And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet. When it was ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

“Those who qualify will be awarded a certificate” or “those who qualify will be awarded certificates”?

All my life, I have been confused with choosing plural or singular form to represent one-one correspondence notion. Only those who qualify will be awarded a certificate. or Only those who ...
17
votes
4answers
30k views

There are no comments / There is no comment

Which is correct? * "There are no comments." * "There is no comment." Which would you use for a web application, i.e. what to display when a blog post or an article has no comment attached? ...
17
votes
5answers
49k views

What is the plural of “scenario”?

What is the plural of "scenario"? I have always used "scenarios", but have recently come across "scenaria" and "scenarii". Should I be treating it as an Italian or Latin word?
17
votes
4answers
68k views

“Criteria” versus “criterion”

I came across several forums and articles saying that criteria is plural and criterion is singular. Some gave me the impression that criterion is used to denote a set of rules. What is the correct ...
17
votes
3answers
16k views

“There are a couple of apples” or “there is a couple of apples”?

You have only one couple of apples, so it's singular. There are multiple apples, so it's plural. Which one is right, "there are a couple of apples" or "there is a couple of apples"? I have seen both ...
17
votes
5answers
43k views

€10 = “ten euro” or “ten euros”?

Which is the correct form: "ten euro" or "ten euros"?
17
votes
3answers
2k views

“User accounts” or “users account”

Is it correct to say user accounts or users account when referring to the accounts any user has on a site like this one? In general, in the case of a noun that is used as adjective for the noun that ...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

Smoking, drinking and eating are not allowed

I live in Bangkok and on the intercom in the subway they constantly say Smoking, drinking and eating are not allowed. To me it sounds weird. I’d say Smoking, drinking and eating is not allowed. ...
16
votes
5answers
24k views

“Are” vs. “is” for proper nouns which sound plural (such as band names)

I was trying to explain to a friend that someone is no longer available on Spotify earlier today so I said the sentence: The Avalanches are no longer available on Spotify. Immediately after ...
16
votes
1answer
11k views

“The news is good.” Why?

We use "the news is good" instead of "the news are good." What is the rationale behind this? Are there similar situations in English?
16
votes
0answers
3k views

What is the plural of the word “index”?

What is the plural of the word "index"? It seems that there are two that are acceptable: "indexes" and "indices". I happen to prefer "indices" but I was wondering if one was generally preferred over ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

A significant amount of zombies were detected in your city

Can anyone please help and tell me if this sentence is correct? "A significant amount of zombies were detected in your city." In my opinion it should be "A significant amount of zombies was ...
15
votes
5answers
36k views

Is “audience” singular or plural?

I want to use 'audience' in the following sentence. In what form should I use it? Is it a singular or plural noun? How the audience demotivate players in the NBA. How the audience demotivates ...
15
votes
7answers
18k views

Is “et al.” used as a singular or plural subject?

When referring to multiple authors by using the name of the first author and "et al.", is it correct to grammatically treat this as one person or multiple persons? Gamma et al. are saying in their ...
15
votes
4answers
12k views

“Neither Michael nor Albert is correct” or “Neither Michael nor Albert are correct”?

What is the correct sentence? Neither Michael nor Albert is correct. Neither Michael nor Albert are correct.
15
votes
8answers
77k views

Is “many a times” correct?

I've been doing proofreading on a beta site and there appears to be a typo. Is there any usage of "many a times" that is correct, or is it always wrong to apply a singular "a" to a plural noun?
15
votes
3answers
5k views

Apostrophe in “beginners guide”

In the phrase beginners guide to …, where should the apostrophe go? Beginner’s Guide to […] Beginners’ Guide to […] In my particular case, this is the title for a presentation so there are ...
15
votes
3answers
31k views

Why is the plural form of “life” “lives”, while the plural form of “still life” is “still lifes”?

Why does the plural form of "life" is "lives", while the plural form of "still life" is "still lifes"? From Wikipedia: A still life (plural still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Family name pluralization

When pluralizing family (last) names that also happen to be common English words, does the pluralization follow the same rules as the common word? For example, "the Smith family" can be pluralized as ...
15
votes
3answers
31k views

Is there a term for words that have identical singular and plural forms?

Is there a term for nouns that have identical singular and plural forms? For example, sheep fish glasses aircraft/spacecraft etc.
15
votes
3answers
836 views

What are wrong with this phrase?

Is the phrase what are wrong with XY and ZZ correct English? I stumbled upon it in a question on movies.SE: What are wrong with the bleach and the fish in the Machinist?, and instantly thought ...
15
votes
2answers
9k views

Plural of “syntax” [closed]

What is the plural of syntax? Would it be syntacies? What rule would govern this kind of construction?
15
votes
4answers
24k views

Plural of 'yes'

What is the plural of yes? Googling brings up many different suggestions from different sources. Yesses Yeses Yes's Yes' ?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of certain words ending in “-en”

Tchrist's comment here on my answer to an etymology question brought the following to mind: Ox (from Old English oxa) maintains the same vowel in the plural oxen that it has in the singular. But ...
15
votes
2answers
53k views

“In detail” vs. “in details”

Which form is correct: "in detail" or "in details"? I want to use it while describing an algorithm. First I give a general description of an algorithm and then more detailed description.
15
votes
3answers
42k views

Afterward versus afterwards — which, and/or when?

So, I've noticed over time that I see both "afterward" and "afterwards" at different times. Having a pet peeve (though I'm not certain it's actually a well-founded prejudice, lexicographically ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

Is it ok to say “Your barracks is finished”?

In the online game Travian, the following sentence is used: Your barracks is finished. A good step towards world domination. Shouldn’t it instead be: Your barracks are finished. or Your ...
14
votes
2answers
6k views

Plural form of 'schema'

Schema appears to have two plural forms that are both valid: schemata and schemas. Are they completely interchangeable; or are there any guidelines on which one is appropriate for particular contexts? ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Should nouns borrowed from Japanese be pluralized?

As someone who has watched a lot of subtitled Japanese animation, it seems odd to hear a word such as ninja (used in the plural) in the dialogue and see it transliterated as ninjas. It somehow seems ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is it that score is used in singular when referring to several groups of 20?

If I'm not mistaken, score can mean "a group or set twenty". What I don't understand is why you say for example "Four score and seven years ago...", instead of saying "four scores" (since there are ...
14
votes
6answers
6k views

Is the word “data” now considered singular, or still plural?

I know that the singular of data is datum. I know that data is a plural. However, common usage of the word "data" suggests it is used as a "collection of data". Here is [the collection of] data. ...