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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

20
votes
4answers
90k views

Correct usage of “persons” (vs. “people”)

I had a little fight about persons vs. people. Could you advise if both of the following are correct, if possible with reference to a dictionary? A table for two people please. A table for ...
20
votes
2answers
477 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
4answers
24k 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.
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
6answers
5k 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
5k 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
2answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
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 ...
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
6answers
6k 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
2k 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
3k 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”?
17
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
75k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
34k views

€10 = “ten euro” or “ten euros”?

Which is the correct form: "ten euro" or "ten euros"?
16
votes
3answers
13k 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
77k views

Difference between “zeros” and “zeroes” [duplicate]

Are there any differences between “zeros” and “zeroes”? Is any of them more correct, more often used, more modern? Are there differences e.g. between British English and American English in the usage ...
16
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
1answer
8k 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
2k 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
3answers
3k 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. ...
15
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
41k 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?
15
votes
4answers
49k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
30k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
4k 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
21k 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
26k 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
760 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
5answers
14k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
77k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
30k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
9k 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.
14
votes
3answers
5k 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" ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

When do I use -i for expressing the plural of a word?

I've never been certain of the rules surrounding the use of the -i suffix for pluralizing a word. I had thought that it was used for any word whose singular ended in an 's', but that doesn't appear to ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

How to treat a country name that has a plural meaning

I was wondering if there was a sentence that contains a country name (or generally a proper noun) that has a plural word in it - e.g., the United States or The United Emirates - how do we treat it? ...
14
votes
4answers
23k views

What is the proper plural of the word “freshman”?

Would it be proper to say freshman students, freshmen, or freshmen students? Edit: It is worth noting that I have since learned it is more acceptable in educational circles to use the term ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Usage of English definite article when referring to generic word

My mother language does not have articles, so I still struggle to choose when to use the indefinte and definite article. The other day, I learned: "The dog is an animal" is acceptable. "The iron is ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

How to indicate possession by e.g. passers-by, mothers-in-law

I'm quite fond of internal pluralisation, such as passers-by, mothers-in-law, or even Chambers of Commerce. However, I've recently realised that I've no idea how to indicate possession in such a ...
14
votes
1answer
17k views

Politics: singular or plural?

Which is correct, "politics is out of scope" or "politics are out of scope?"
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Where did the singular “innings” come from?

In baseball, an inning is a team's (or both teams', depending on context) turn to bat. A game consists of 9 innings. In cricket, an innings is a team's turn to bat, a game consists of 2 or 4 ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

The Plural of Email - Emails? [duplicate]

I debated with my peers that we can use the word emails when referring to more than one and it would be grammatically right. But most of them said since we don't say we received mails today, ...
13
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the plural acronym “CSS” treated as singular?

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, which is a plural phrase. One would say: Cascading Style Sheets are used to provide a central location for all of the stylings of a project. However, it ...
13
votes
7answers
13k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
6k views

“Cannon” as plural

I'm reading a novel based in ye olde pirate-times, and I have come across the author's usage of "cannon" (without the "s") to refer to multiple cannons. The ship boasted 32 cannon onboard. Is ...
13
votes
1answer
8k views

Why is walri not the correct pluralization of walrus? [closed]

Why is walri not the correct pluralization of walrus?