7

Changing a verb to reflect the number of people and tense of the sentence is called conjugation.

Is there a word that means toggling a noun between singular and plural?

ie. "The computer program could construct basic sentences, but it could not pluralify nouns correctly".

4
  • But "pluralize" only goes one way, from singular to plural. I was looking for something that meant "to set the correct pluralness", even if the correct "pluralness" is singular.
    – Nick
    Dec 10, 2015 at 21:00
  • 2
    "...but it could not handle noun plurality correctly"?
    – Jim
    Dec 10, 2015 at 21:16
  • @Nick In the context of the sentence you gave, "pluralize" can be understood to have exactly that meaning.
    – hobbs
    Dec 11, 2015 at 3:27

3 Answers 3

16

Verbs are conjugated. Nouns are declined, and different ways of doing that are called declensions.

decline (In the grammar of Latin, Greek, and certain other languages) state the forms of (a noun, pronoun, or adjective) corresponding to case, number, and gender.

[ODO]

However, changing the word to account for number (for example, adding an -s) is a form of inflection. Adjectives in English are not inflected for number: the same form is used no matter how many things are being described.

inflect Grammar Change the form of (a word) to express a particular grammatical function or attribute, typically tense, mood, person, number, and gender

[ODO]

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  • 4
    However, I've never heard the word decline used of a language which shows only number and not case in its nouns.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 10, 2015 at 21:00
  • 5
    It may do, but I believe that if you used decline in @Nick's sentence, most people would go "Huh?" and those that were familiar with a language which has case marking would go "But English doesn't mark cases". Hardly anybody would understand it to mean "pluralis/ze" unless there is a pretty clear implication from context.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 10, 2015 at 21:04
  • 1
    English does mark cases in pronouns.
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 10, 2015 at 21:08
  • 1
    @ColinFine - Those are valid points, but it's worth noting that the O.P. didn't ask for a common term, or a widely-known term.
    – J.R.
    Dec 10, 2015 at 23:03
  • 1
    Decline is, I think, the right answer. There is little declension remaining in English, as noted. Usually just plural. Q: decline "woman". A: "woman, women".
    – GEdgar
    Dec 11, 2015 at 1:56
3

Having had regard to @Andrew Leach, in his answer, and the comments it provoked, I think the all important word is number.

However number would be a difficult term to use without there being ambiguity. Saying that the program could not specify number would introduce the idea that you needed quantity specified in some way.

Can't you just get by with could not specify nouns as singular or plural?

2
  • Or "could not accurately distinguish singular and plural nouns", or "could not properly assign number to nouns".
    – ralph.m
    Dec 10, 2015 at 22:51
  • @ralph.m By all means use the first one, but I think it inevitable that the second has the potential to create misunderstanding - for the reasons I explained.
    – WS2
    Dec 10, 2015 at 23:06
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I am not as knowledged as others here about our English language, but I did stumble across this: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/singularisation

I suppose one verb would be "singularise". It feels right to use, although I must admit I can't recall it ever being used and additionally I find the spelling to be odd.

Based of speech, I would personally spell it & sound-it-out like 'singulise' (sing-gul-lise).

Regardless though, The word sounds right to me and I would think most native english speaking people would understand the context without much problem, but either way the spelling does still looks strange to me.

the only other thing I was wondering, is whether you could simply say "depluralise" which would effectively imply the same thing.

This is a really VERY intriguing question you have raised! :)

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