Now, person is singular, and can decline to the plural persons or people, depending on region, level of formality, and nuance. Let's ignore persons for the moment and just focus on people. People, when used as a singular collective noun, can further decline to the plural peoples. For example, I could say that I am a person from Gillikin Country, which has many people, and all of them are part of the peoples of Oz.

Now, my question is this: are there any other words that behave this way? That is to say, are there any other words which have a singular, plural, and collective plural inflection?

  • 1
    Hmm. This might be cheating, but here goes: faculty member, faculty, faculties? Aug 2, 2015 at 1:57
  • I think member would be the singular there. Faculty seems like it's a modifier that would be optional in context. In addition, there's a slew of other options, such as team member, board member, or band member, all of which can be reworded as 'person in/on the X'. Aug 2, 2015 at 2:15
  • 1
    How about "fish"?
    – deadrat
    Aug 2, 2015 at 2:23
  • That absolutely works. It's a strange one, given that the singular and plural are the same, but 'fish, fish, fishes' fits well. Aug 2, 2015 at 2:29
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    @jimbotherisenclown You aren’t changing the case. Declension is about case.
    – tchrist
    Aug 3, 2015 at 2:12

3 Answers 3


Fish is a good example.

The singular fish refers to a particular fish.

It can also refer to a particular type of fish.

The plural of particular fish is fish.

The plural of particular types of fishes is fishes

  • This is not generally accepted; 'fish' and 'fishes' are usually seen as mere spelling variants, with the latter old-fashioned. You need to add a supporting reference, and to explain why this reference should be ranked more trustworthy than say the usage note Collins give. Oct 7, 2017 at 10:40

The example that comes to mind would be money. You have a particular denomination of currency, money, and above that there is monies

  • I don't think there is a singular countable use for money. Can you say, "I have a money"?
    – deadrat
    Aug 2, 2015 at 8:50
  • I'm going to second your comment, deadrat. Money is a collective noun that refers to dollars, yen, cents, pesos, and so on, all of which inflect differently. Aug 3, 2015 at 1:12
  • Each nation has its own money, so while you can say that all currencies are money collectively there are many monies. That is why there are exchange rates, there isn't yet a singular universal money.
    – Yeshe
    Aug 3, 2015 at 2:38

Maybe the police, a policeman/woman/officer and polices?

  • the nesting is wrong, it should be officer, police, polices. But that does work.
    – Yeshe
    Aug 2, 2015 at 6:18

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