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What is the plural of learning? Is learning always singular? For e.g., if I have done research on a number of topic and gained sufficient knowledge, do I call it as "my learnings" or "my learning"? Is there a word called "learnings"?

Or is "learning" always in plural form? Then what is the singular form?

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4 Answers 4

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Oxford dictionaries online defines learning as:

[mass noun]

1 The acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught.

‘these children experienced difficulties in learning’

1.1 Knowledge acquired through study, experience, or being taught.

‘I liked to parade my learning in front of my sisters’

1.2 (usually learnings) [count noun] A thing learned by experience; a lesson. ‘the learnings from the mission will help NASA plan for a future mission to Mars’

Lexico mis-labels "mass usage" as "mass noun" (and "count usage" as "count noun"). It could be claimed that learnings is a plural-form mass usage. "Three learnings" sounds totally unidiomatic, so this seems a sensible analysis. [Credit to Edwin Ashworth for this paragraph]

So there are two usages of "learning":

  • As an unpluralised non-count noun, i.e. "learning" as a concept
  • As a pluralised mass usage, i.e. you can talk about "the learnings from this event", but you can't say "there are three learnings from this event"

Note: It appears you may not be using the word "learning" correctly anyway. See PV22's answer for some alternatives.

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    This isn't the full article and therefore constitutes a misquote. Lexico (your reference) has << learning ... 1.2 [count noun] (usually learnings) A thing learned by experience; a lesson. ‘the learnings from the mission will help NASA plan for a future mission to Mars’ >> [bolding mine]. Lexico mis-labels 'mass usage' 'mass noun' (and 'count usage', 'count noun'). It could alternatively be claimed that learnings is a plural-form mass usage. 'Three learnings' sounds totally unidiomatic, so I'd go with this analysis. In either case, 'learnings' is certainly licensed ... May 3, 2021 at 11:36
  • and by the dictionary you say disallows it. May 3, 2021 at 11:39
  • But you can't have "The learnings learnt" you say "The lessons learnt"?
    – CpILL
    May 5, 2021 at 1:29
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    @EdwinAshworth - You're correct. I can't say exactly what I was thinking 4 years ago; maybe I was trying to give a simple answer, without covering the more complicated aspects that a native speaker might attempt. But this site isn't ELL, so a correct and complete answer is appropriate. I've edited; please feel free to edit further if you feel necessary.
    – AndyT
    May 5, 2021 at 10:10
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Prescriptivists may claim there is no such word. But Shakespeare used the word, and that is good enough for me.

Puts to him all the Learnings that his time Could make him the receiuer of.
Cymbeline

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    Shakespeare used 'egal' and 'gast'. Note that OP asks for modern idiomatic usage. May 3, 2021 at 11:42
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"Learnings" is the plural of "learning" in the sense of "(specific) things or lessons that have been learned". It is often considered nonstandard English, even though it is rather widely used. If you are only talking about general knowledge rather than specific things you have learned, I would definitely use the singular "learning".

Wiktionary has rather thorough usage comments on the word "learnings": https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/learnings

The term learnings was not in common use in the 19th and 20th century, though the countable noun sense learning (“thing learned”) dates to Middle English (14th century; see leornyng), and the plural learnings to Early Modern English. Note that early use of learnings often have the sense or connotation “teachings” (see examples above), as was the case of learn generally. It has found occasional use for centuries, including by Shakespeare,[1][2] and parallel constructions are commonplace – compare teachings and findings.

However, from circa 2000 it became a buzzword in business speak, particularly in constructions such as “key learnings” or “apply these learnings”; this was preceded by occasional educational use from the 1950s. Some disapprove of this, and it sounds ungrammatical enough to be used as an example of broken English, as in the comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006). Suggested alternatives include lessons learned, “things one learned” – or simply lessons – discoveries, findings, insights, and takeaways.

"Learning to live with ‘learnings’" from CS Monitor (2021) comments:

Learnings is often seen as pretentious and useless business jargon, but its cousin teachings is pretty unobjectionable. What’s the difference?

Learnings surged in popularity during the 1950s, in business jargon and edu-speak, which did little to make it seem more “correct.” But it is now used widely. We’ll have to endure learnings for the foreseeable future.

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  • But you can't have "The learnings learnt" you say "The lessons learnt"?
    – CpILL
    May 5, 2021 at 0:51
  • I don't see a problem with "learnings learnt" except for how repetitive it sounds. Grammatically, however, it seems fine.
    – mic
    May 7, 2021 at 21:57
  • It sounds wrong. Which grammar are you referring to?
    – CpILL
    May 9, 2021 at 22:43
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I would not use learning in that way. You could use the term "lessons" if you want to discuss multiple instances of learning, or "knowledge" to discuss the compendium of what you have learning, or "studies" if you are looking for a general phrase to represent the entirety of process of learning a topic.

Lesson [les-uh n] \noun

  1. something to be learned or studied.

  2. something from which a person learns or should learn

Knowledge [nol-ij] /noun

  1. the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time.

  2. the sum of what is known.

Source: Dictionary.com

Study [stuhd-ee] /noun

  1. (Often studies) a personal effort to gain knowledge

Source: Dictionary.com

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  • This does not answer the question.
    – AndyT
    Jun 28, 2017 at 10:52
  • Actually, thinking about it further, this is probably a bit of an "X and Y" question; where the OP is asking about X but they really need to know about Y. If you were to edit this answer to explain what "learning" is, and why it isn't suitable, and only then go on to provide better alternatives, then this answer would probably be deserving of my upvote.
    – AndyT
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:01

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