The rules I know:

0 count of item : "zero items plural

1 count of item : "one item" singular

greater than 1 count of item : "many items" plural

less than 0 count of item (as in mathematics) : "negative one item / negative x items"

This leads me to believe that it's proper to use plural form in any situation where the count is not exactly 1.

  • Jonny has (unknown amount of) apple - (to me this is wrong)

  • Jonny has (unknown amount of) apples - (to me this is correct)

If Jonny has (unknown amount of) apples, is it then acceptable to say:

Jonny has apples - (I think so, and there are many examples of this in English; however it occurs to me that Jonny may have 0 apples and therefore you wouldn't say 'Jonny has apples' but rather 'Jonny has no apples' or 'Jonny does not have any apples')

Is there any situation in where this is not the case? For example if:

I know that Jonny has 0 apples and I give him 1 apple. Jonny now has 1 apple.

But if I don't know how many apples Jonny has and I give him 1 apple.

Would I still say that Jonny has 1 (an) apple? or is it acceptable to say Jonny has apples because I don't actually know for certain how many apples Jonny has?

  • If you know Jonny has at least 1 apple because you gave him one, you could say "Jonny has one or more apples," or "Jonny has one apple for sure, possibly more." Or something along those lines. Oct 21, 2016 at 18:40
  • @developerwjk so I guess what you're saying is that there isn't a concise way of stating the 1 or more aspect ?
    – MegaMark
    Oct 21, 2016 at 19:16


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