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

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109
votes
9answers
20k views

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym?

For example, if I wanted to write the equivalent of There are many automated teller machines in this city. Would it be There are many ATMs in this city. or There are many ATM's in ...
64
votes
5answers
13k views

Why is the word “pants” plural?

We wear a shirt, a jacket but a pair of pants. Why is pants plural?
60
votes
5answers
3k views

When does thousand turn into thousands?

My boyfriend and I are arguing whether thousands of miles means 1000+ or 2000+ miles. The first argument is that 1000+ is over 1000 and therefore 'thousands of miles' by rounding up. The other ...
54
votes
8answers
6k views

Is -1 singular or plural?

Do we say "-1 thing" or "-1 things"? Edit: I am interested in both of these cases: "two things minus one thing(s)" and the quantity "minus/negative one thing(s)." Bounty: While there are some good ...
50
votes
7answers
28k views

What is the plural form of “status”?

What is the plural form of "status"?
49
votes
13answers
8k views

One of us is wrong, aren't we?

I have just learned from what I consider a reliable source, that the following sentence is correct: One of us is wrong, aren't we? I would never in my life have written this, but I am assured ...
49
votes
7answers
7k views

“Indexes” or “indices”?

A table can have one index, or it has two or more ind...? Is it indexes or indices? I'm just asking since I've noticed that they're both used quite often. Even Wikipedia seems to support both ...
48
votes
11answers
3k views

Is “data” considered singular or plural?

Related to this question and this question. My non-native English speaking friend just asked me: Data is ... or Data are ... I said both but that's because I've been desensitized from ...
44
votes
7answers
4k views

Was “book” to “beek” as “foot” is to “feet”?

"Foot" is a curious word in English because it is pluralized in an unusual way; the "oo" in the word is changed to "ee". Did this once use to be a standard way of pluralizing things in English (or a ...
36
votes
3answers
11k views

What is the plural form of “zero”?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
36
votes
8answers
3k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
35
votes
8answers
37k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

If the plural of ‘man’ is ‘men,’ shouldn’t the plural of ‘German’ be ‘Germen’?

What makes these two words so different that 'man' is changed to 'men', but 'German' is changed to 'Germans'?
32
votes
9answers
4k views

“1 in 10 are” or “1 in 10 is”?

Take the examples: "One in ten children are dyslexic." "One in ten children is dyslexic." "One in ten children has dyslexia." "One in ten children have dyslexia." The "one" is singular so 2 and 3 ...
29
votes
9answers
25k views

Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular?

I'd say Microsoft have a way of bending the rules and I know that McLaren have won the championship. While this sounds strange, I believe it is correct English (sorry, I'm not native). But when it's ...
28
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the correct plural of octopus?

What is the correct plural of octopus?
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Are there any words in English that have a plural with a separate derivation?

There are some irregular plurals in English (child/children, goose/geese), but all of the ones I know of share the same root word. In some languages, there are some irregular pairs where the singular ...
27
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it wrong to use the word “codes” in a programming context?

Is it wrong to use the word "codes" in programming context? I shall use these codes.
27
votes
7answers
18k views

Legos not LEGO?

I've seen many people make reference to LEGO as Legos. e.g. "I enjoy playing my Legos". But from my understanding this is incorrect and should be referred to simply as LEGO (in capitals as per ...
27
votes
8answers
27k views

“There is/are more than one”. What's the difference?

While adding to an Answer to this question, I needed to use the above phrase, and I suddenly realised I was unsure whether to write "is" or "are". There is more than one way to skin a cat. If there ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

What does the “s” in “thanks” mean?

I'm teaching English in a non-English-speaking country where plural "s" and third-person "s" get confused a lot with no "s" at all. The dialogue in the textbook was explaining how you should respond ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “math” always pluralized in British English and singular in American English?

In the U.S. I would study math. In Britain, I would study maths. What gives?
25
votes
4answers
15k views

What is the proper plural form of 'apparatus'?

Dictionary.com claims that the plural of 'apparatus' is 'apparatuses'. Surely that can't be right... isn't it 'apparati'?
25
votes
7answers
2k views

Why “it’s turtles” not “they are turtles”

It is a third person singular and is used to refer to a thing. If that’s the case, then why do we say: A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on ...
24
votes
3answers
5k views

Is two-thirds plural?

Is 2/3 always, sometimes or never plural? E.g. 1a) 2/3 of the pizza were eaten. 1b) 2/3 of the pizza was eaten. 2a) 2/3 of the visitors were men. 2b) 2/3 of the visitors was men. I ...
23
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is 'sheep' the same when talking about one or more than one?

I am trying to find out why sheep has the plural sheep. I have found different explanations, such as, "it is because they were seen as uncountable, as in 'a herd of sheep'", "because it comes from ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the optional plural form of a word that ends in “‑y”?

I guess “optional plural” is the correct term. I’m referring to things like It can be found at the following location(s). Please pick up your ticket(s). But how do I do that to a word that ends ...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

Plural of an initialism that ends with the letter S [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? I was answering something on Super User and wrote OSes as part of my normal flow without really thinking about it. On a ...
21
votes
6answers
50k views

Which is correct, “neither is” or “neither are”?

Bob: "Can I set the font color? Can I customize the text?" Frank: "Neither of these options is available. Sorry!" Is "neither is" always correct or should one use "neither are" in some cases and ...
21
votes
5answers
1k views

Words that are pluralized in the middle?

This is purely a curiosity, but I'm fascinated by mid-word pluralization, even if the word in question is a compound word. For example, passersby or standersby. No others have occurred to me. Can ...
21
votes
2answers
679 views

Marking plural of code words

In my blog (which is about programming) I often use reserved words from different programming languages. Like this: When column is nullable in both tables, this query won't return a match of two ...
21
votes
5answers
46k views

Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Q: "Do you have any juice?" A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge." Sounds perfectly fine to me, but: Q: "Do you have any towels?" A: "Yes, there's some in the closet." Does not. I asked ...
21
votes
2answers
27k views

“Content” or “Contents”?

Content or contents — when do I use which form? I realize that the one is the plural form of the other, but they seem to be used interchangeably.
21
votes
3answers
10k views

Person, Persons, People, Peoples

Can you please clarify the relation and differences between these nouns? For example, is it proper to use "persons" instead of "people"? Are they the same? As I believe that "people" is plural, how ...
20
votes
7answers
10k views

Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?

I have seen people say both 0.25 mile and 0.25 miles. Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?
20
votes
5answers
52k views

“Do's” and “don'ts” or “do's” and “don't's”?

I am making a list to my children telling them what are some of the things they should do and shouldn't. Under one side is "do", and the other is "don't". Would I write "do's" and "don't's"? Cause ...
20
votes
2answers
18k views

A number of questions “has been” or “have been” asked?

Formally, is it correct to write: A number of questions has been asked here. or: A number of questions have been asked here. As a non-native speaker of English, I would prefer the former: ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

Pluralization rule for “five-year-old children”, “20 pound note”, “10 mile run”

Why are year, pound and mile in the singular form in the phrases below? five-year-old children 20 pound note 10 mile run Is that because they're acting as adjectives, which are always invariable ...
20
votes
2answers
422 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
6answers
6k views

Did English ever have a “you” plural?

Outside of the dialectical form used in the Southern US, "y'all," has English ever had a plural "you"? If not, how does English get around using this form?
19
votes
5answers
2k 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
3k 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
3k 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
2answers
959 views

Why don't we use the indefinite article with 'software'?

Generally, one doesn't use the indefinite article with a noun because it's plural, but sometimes you get nouns where, for some reason, the indefinite article isn't used even though the noun is ...
18
votes
7answers
1k 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. ...
18
votes
4answers
32k views

Which is correct: “one or more is” or “one or more are”?

Should the phrase be "one or more is...", or "one or more are..."?
18
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
62k views

Is “everyone” singular or plural?

Which is correct? Everyone were convinced that he would go to the game. Everyone was convinced that he would go to the game. I think it's "was", because "everyone" is singular, but I just ...