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I'm wondering how we can actually count "gales". When do we use the singular form and when do we use the plural form?

Here're two examples I've found:

Hundreds of old trees were blown down in the gales. (Cambridge Dictionary)

The gale blew down hundreds of trees. (Oxford Learner's Dictionaries)

Thank you.

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    If a lot of wind blows, and then it stops, and tomorrow a lot of wind blows, that's at least two gales, isn't it? Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 5:15
  • That makes sense. Thank you!
    – Ana
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 5:35
  • Plural means more than one. When a thing is two or more, use plural. A thing can cause damage, and so can things. Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 14:02

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Hundreds of old trees were blown down in the gales. (Cambridge Dictionary)

The gales = a series of separate gales within a given period. The gales = the period in which we had a number of gales.

The gale blew down hundreds of trees. (Oxford Learner's Dictionaries)

This is the basic use of "gale": it refers to one gale of which the listener is aware.

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    I'd say it's more notional than precisionist, and that there is a register ('gales' being perhaps more poetic) factor too. 'In the gales' can conjure up to my mind a single period with fluctuations in wind intensity, sometimes reaching the 'gale' threshold. Of course, there may well be a series of such episodes over a longer timespan. Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 14:29
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    "That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed When the gales of November came early" Gordon Lightfoot.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 21:34

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