1

I cannot find the answer to this in the EL&U archives but I am sure it must be there somewhere and that this is a duplicate question.

Singular :

He/she goes to the shops every day.

Plural :

We/they go to the shops every day.

Why am I plural ?

I go to the shops every day.


EDIT : The supposed duplicate is an interesting question and has a very competent answer but the answer is very broad and does not specifically answer my own question. People learning English often err in this very matter and it would be interesting if someone could answer more specifically to give an orderly reason why we do something in English that appears to be either completely chaotic or strangely contradictory.

marked as duplicate by sumelic, user240918, Dan Bron, David, NVZ Feb 1 '18 at 15:51

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    If you look at the conjugations now, one way to analyze it that it looks like the first person singular form of verbs is the same as 1st/2nd/3rd person plural forms. Or you could just say that the 3rd person singular is just a weird exception. But if you look historically, you just realize that it is just that endings in most of the person/numbers dropped except for 3rd person singular. So it is coincidence. – Mitch Feb 1 '18 at 15:54
  • "Why am I plural?" sounds a bit funny, who says there are more than one "I"? I know, the examples clarified. However, you could have made the question clearer, and less ambiguous. Oh, and added a bit of research, too. – Mari-Lou A Feb 1 '18 at 16:05
6

The conjugation used to be (in Chaucer's Middle English) for the verb heren (meaning hear),

I here, thou herest, he hereth, we/you/they heren.

So the plural form really used to be different. See this website.

Over the centuries, the endings have changed. First, the "n" on the plural form was dropped. Then, people stopped pronouncing "e"s on the ends of words. And finally, the second person singular thou was lost. So the conjugation is now

I hear, you hear, he hears, we/you/they hear.

So now, it looks like I and you take the plural form. And in fact, for all practical purposes, they do. But historically, I hear is a singular form that is no longer distinguishable from the plural form, and you hear is a plural form that has become singular.

  • Interesting. Thank you. (Up-voted and accepted as answer.) – Nigel J Feb 1 '18 at 16:55
  • (And at some point the 3sg ending -(e)th was substituted for the rival ending -(e)s across the board.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 1 '18 at 20:01
-1

I had an immediate answer after reading the title of the question. I will answer that alone; I have no idea what the body of the question asks.

There is something called the Subjunctive Mood of verbs. An example is "If I were a rich man." The difference between that and "If I was a rich man" is the plural verb with singular subject acts as if to add 'but that is not really so' to the meaning.

You may wish to research it. There are not many situations where it can be shown - because for most tenses singular and plural verb are the same. You might never need to understand it: it's use is always optional.

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    The examples in the original post are not examples of the English subjunctive. – choster Feb 1 '18 at 14:56
  • Frankly, I gave up on your examples when I saw: Why am I plural ? // I go to the shops every day. // 'I go' is the correct singular form. – Ross Murray Feb 1 '18 at 15:00
  • I consider your down vote unjustified. The body of the question is incomprehensible. The question itself has some meaning. I explained what I was answering. – Ross Murray Feb 1 '18 at 15:03
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    Frankly, the site reminds me of Monty Python-style skits about Victorian-era boarding schools for upper-class boys … the head prefect can do whatever he pleases and nobody says a word. Meanwhile, the other prefects are running around looking for any transgressions by lower-form boys - however minor, and in David's case inventing transgressions because he resented being told he missed the point of a question – for the pleasure of dishing out a damn-good thrashing to whatever unfortunate they catch. – Ross Murray Feb 1 '18 at 16:29
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    People who answer questions they don't understand really shouldn't be that surprised if they get downvoted. If you don't understand a question, leave a comment. Your answer here was harmless, so I'm not downvoting, but there are times when people don't understand a question and give an answer that is the complete opposite from the correct one. – Peter Shor Feb 1 '18 at 18:33

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