Take for example the tag line: "reliable removals service". Is this correct grammar/usage? Or should it be just "removal", singular?

To me, "removals" seems more correct because it is describing removals in general and would include jobs that remove multiple items(house contents, furniture etc). And this is the type of company I am describing(house, apartment, office removals etc, but also including single items..)

Whereas "removal service" singular would suggest to me that it's more for jobs involving removal of single items, or some type of specialist service. For example "piano removal service".

I'd really like to hear from you if you know which is more correct. I have seen both used for the type of service I am describing - even on the same website the plural and singular seem to often be used interchangibly.


The noun removal is being used as a noun adjunct to service where it acts as an adjective, describing the service.

It is normal to use the singular in this case, even in with words that are generally always plural, hence "a trouser press" rather than "a trousers press". There are exceptions, particularly in British English, but they're mostly derived from forms that were originally using the plural possessive (e.g. "writers' group" becoming "writers group") rather than starting out as a noun adjunct. They're also something that many would criticise as bad grammar.

So we have coffee shops, not coffees shops, video libraries, not videos libraries, pet hotels, not pets hotels, and removal services, not removals services.

The other way to look at it is to just look at what people do. While a google search can find some people using "removals service", but many more using "removal service". Meanwhile this chart compares uses of the two found in books, the blue line is "removal service" and the red line "removals service", which is zero throughout: enter image description here

  • Now that's a good use of NGrams to settle a "which should I use" question! – FumbleFingers Jan 26 '13 at 2:22
  • I like how you addressed both grammar and usage. Thank you :) – user36468 Jan 26 '13 at 8:45

This is how I would use the various forms:

Removals or Removal for a general service (either sounds good)

The removal men are arriving at 9am (not removals men)

Jones & Son offer a piano removal service (single, specialist service)

  • They're still going to remove more than one piano if required, but that doesn't matter because it's still a noun adjunct in either case. Just like we have coffee shops that sell more than one coffee. – Jon Hanna Jan 26 '13 at 1:38
  • Thanks for your answer. Good to know it's not just me! :) – user36468 Jan 26 '13 at 8:45

In the US we call them movers, not removers. Removing carries a notion of getting rid of something.

  • Yeah, I tend to agree with this actually. If it was up to me I would have written it as 'moving service'. – user36468 Jan 26 '13 at 8:52

If you want to use Google to check frequencies for a word/phrase, I have one suggestion and one warning.

First, the suggestion. I have found "Google Fight" an easy way of checking the frequencies of 2 words/phrases. You just enter the two words you want to compare and then click on "Fight" and it shows a bar graph of the frequencies. If you want to use phrases, just put them in quotation marks, e.g. "removal service" v "removals service". In your case, "removal service" appears roughly 20 times as frequently as "removals service", so you can be reasonably sure that "removal service" is the right answer.

The warning. Google can only give you the absolute number of occurrences of the word/phrase, it can't tell you anything about the context your term appears in, so there is no guarantee that your word is being used correctly. You should always take the Google results with a pinch of salt.


  • Google Books Ngrams is more sophisticated and more reliable, particularly for printed works, particularly as Google web search results vary by location, and represent only a snapshot of the index at the moment it is being searched. – choster Oct 20 '14 at 15:01