Is there a single English word for the singular and plural form of the word? I want to write a java function that gets the singular or plural form of the word based on the count. If count is greater than 1 then plural els singular word. To name the method, I wanted to know if there is any such word.

Is it called the forms of noun?

  • For the given purpose and context, I'd say word is the hypernym that works and works well enough. – Kris Oct 14 '19 at 8:45
  • If you want to be rigorous, remember that a 'plural form noun' like 'data', 'headquarters' may take a singular verb-form (the headquarters is half a mile away), a 'singular form noun' like 'police', 'team' may take a plural verb-form (the team/police are doing well), some plurals and singulars are identical (sheep, deer), some nouns don't normally have singular (cattle) or plural (wealth) forms.... – Edwin Ashworth Nov 13 '19 at 11:57
  • "Grammatical number" is the term for whether a noun is singular or plural. In this case, I don't think it's any better than "forms of noun" or "singular or plural" though. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_number – Stuart F Nov 13 '19 at 13:35

Lexeme is the term coined by Crystal to cover this, though it is not specific to inflections of nouns.

A lexeme is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection. It is a basic abstract unit of meaning,[1] a unit of morphological analysis in linguistics that roughly corresponds to a set of forms taken by a single root word. For example, in English, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, which can be represented as run.

One form, the lemma (or [base form or] citation form), is chosen by convention as the canonical form of a lexeme. The lemma is the form used in dictionaries as an entry's headword. Other forms of a lexeme are often listed later in the entry if they are uncommon or irregularly-inflected.


Lexeme An alternative term is lexical item. Lexemes (or lexical items) are the basic units of meaning in a language. Dictionaries list them. There’s no harm, of course, in following the long-established tradition, and continuing to say ‘look the word up in a dictionary’, as long as students realise that what they’re really doing is looking up a lexeme. Most of the time, you can carry on talking about ‘words’, and there’ll be no ambiguity. But lexeme is a handy term to have available when students need to talk about such matters as variant forms (the go problem) and idioms.

An idiom is a lexeme, because regardless of the number of words it contains it expresses a single meaning, as in the case of kick the bucket (which incidentally derives from old pig-slaughtering practices, when pigs were hung from beams).

Other examples of variant forms: plurals (boy and boys are the same lexeme), comparison (big, bigger, and biggest are the same lexeme), possession (girl and girl’s are the same lexeme).

[David Crystal]

  • Should have been the perfect thing for the purpose, but for the fact that lexeme is way way broad to be a hypernym for just grammatical number. It's not even limited to single words but extends to phrases, expressions, idioms, and what else I do not know of. – Kris Oct 14 '19 at 8:43
  • Lexeme does not only mean the singular or plural form of the word. So I cannot make use of it. – Mendon Ashwini Oct 14 '19 at 12:09

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