THE NOUN: NUMBER
There are two kinds of Number : 1. Singular, 2. Plural.
1. Singular Number
A noun that denotes one person or thing is said to be in the Singular Number.
Boy, girl, man, bird, tree, book, pen, baby, sweater etc.
2. Plural Number
A noun that denotes more than one person or thing is said to be in the Plural Number.
Boys, girls, men, birds, trees, books, pens, babies, sweaters etc.
How Plural is formed
Generally, the Plurals of nouns are formed by adding ‘s’ to the singular form.
There are some rules of changing singular nouns into plural ones.
If s, ss, sh, ch, x and z are the last letters of noun, ‘es’ putes to the end to make them plural.
But, in case of Stomach (Pronounced as Stomak), Monarch (Pronounced as Monark) only ‘s’ is needed at their end to make them plural.
If there is ‘O’ in the end of a noun, put ‘es’ to the end for plural.
There are some exceptions where only ‘s’ is needed for a plural one in ‘o’ ending nouns.
If there are double vowels to the end of a noun, put only ‘s’ to the end of that noun for plural.
If ‘y’ is the last letter of a noun and that ‘y’ is preceded by a consonant, then change ‘y’ into ‘ies’ for the plural forms.
If ‘y’ is the last letter of a noun and that ‘y’ is preceded by a vowels, then put only ‘s’ to the end of that noun for plural.
If ‘f’ or ‘fe’ are the last letters of a noun, then change ‘f’ or ‘fe’ into ‘ves’ for the plural forms.
Yet, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as:
It is found that a few nouns form their plural by changing the inside vowel of the singular form.
There are a few nouns that form their plural by adding ‘en’ to the singular.
There are some nouns which have their singular and plural forms a-like.
1. Ten hundred weight, make one ton.
2. The boy gave me five hundred, rupees. (When used after numerals)
3. The car cost me eighty thoudand, rupees. (When used after numerals)
There are some nouns which are only used in the plural.
(a) Names of instruments which have two parts forming a kind of pair. For example:
Ballows, spectacles, scissors, tongs, pincers etc.
(b) Names of certain articles of dress. For example:
Trousers, breeches, drawers etc.
(c) Names of diseases. For example:
Measles, mumps etc.
(d) Names of games. For example:
Draughts, billiards etc.
(e) Certain other nouns. For example:
Annals, thanks, proceeds (of a sale). tidings, environs, nuptials, obsequies, assets, chattels, odds, amends, seals, shambles, vegetables, troops, particulars, aborigins, alms, ashes, arrears, dregs, eaves, earnings, sweepings, etc.
There are some plural forms of nouns which are actually singular. For example:
Innings, mathematics, news, civics, politics, physics, ethics, economics, mechanics, summons etc.
Mathematics is an easy subject. (Mathematics is singular number)
If plural looking subjects are particularised or possessed, they become as plural nouns:
1. My Mathematics are strong. (Mathematics – possessed, plural number)
2. The politics of our state are dirty. (politics – particularised, plural number)
3. The summons was issued by the magistrate. (summons – singular number)
The following nouns are always used in singular number. For example:
Scenery, machinery, poetry, stationery, sultry, jewellery, crockery, luggage, baggage, breakage, haltage, percentage, knowledge, postage, wastage, furniture, information, traffic, coffee, dust etc.
Certain Collective Nouns, though singular in form, are always used as plurals. For example:
Poultry, cattle, vermin, people, gentry etc.
In Compound Nouns, we make their plural forms only by adding ‘s’ to the main word.
Now, look at these examples :
|Man killer||Man killers|
|Chief Minister||Chief Ministers|
|Woman hater||Woman haters|
Nouns borrowed from other languages in English have their special rules to change them into plural.
Some ‘um’ ending Latin nouns take only ‘s’ in plural form.
Noun + Proposition + the same noun remain always singular in use.
- Village after village – correct
- Match after match –correct
- Row upon row –correct
- Word for word –correct
- Villages after villages –wrong
- Matches after matches –wrong
- Rows upon rows – wrong
- Word for words – wrong
The digits, verbs, pronouns and abbreviations take their plural form in the following ways:
|M.A.||M.A.s (not M.A.’s)|
|B.A.||B.A.s (not B.A’s)|
|M.L.A.||M.L.A.s (not M.L.A.’s)|
Some nouns have two meanings in the singular but only one in plural.
|Light (radiance, a lamp)||Lights (Lamps)|
|Practice (habit, exercise of a profession)||Practices (habits)|
|Powder (dust, a dose of medicine in fine grains like dust)||Powders (doses of medicine)|
|People (nation, men and women)||Peoples (nations)|
Some nouns have two forms for the plural each with a somewhat different meaning.
|Brother||Brothers : sons of the same parent,
Brethren : members of a society of a community.
|Cloth||Cloths : kinds or pieces of cloth,
Clothes : garments.
|Die||Dies : stamps for coining,
Dice : small cubes used in games.
|Fish||Fishes : taken separately,
|Genius||Geniuses : persons of great talent,
|Index||Indexes : tables of contents to books,
Indices : signs used in algebra
|Penny||Pennies : number of coins,
Pence : amount in value
Some nouns have one meaning in the singular and more than one in the plural.
|Colour (hue)||Colours (hues, the flag of a regiment)|
|Custom (habit)||Customs (habits, duties levied on imports)|
|Effect (result)||Effects (results, property)|
|Manner (method)||Manners (methods, correct behaviour)|
|Moral (a moral lesson)||Morals (moral lessons, conduct)|
|Number (a quantity)||Numbers (quantities, verses)|
|Pain (suffering)||Pains (sufferings, care, exertion)|
|Premise (proposition)||Premises (propositions, buildings)|
|Quarter (fourth part)||Quarters (fourth part, lodgings)|
|Spectacle (a sight)||Spectacles (sights, eye-glasses)|
|Letter (letter of the alphabet, epistle)||Letters (letters of the alphabet, epistles, literature)|
|Ground (earth, reason)||Grounds (enclosed land attached to house, reasons, dregs)|
Some nouns change their meaning when we make them plural.
|Air : atmosphere||Airs : affected manners|
|Alphabet : letter||Alphabets : longuages|
|Advice : counsel||Advices : information|
|Abuse : bad language||Abuses : languages|
|Compass : exterit, range||Compasses: an instrument for drawing circles|
|Force : strength||Forces : military forces|
|Good : benefit, well-being||Goods : merchandise|
|Physic: medicine||Physics : natural science|
|Practice : habit||Practices : traditions|
|Iron: a kind of metal||Irons : fetters|
|Light : radiant||Lights : lamps|
|Respect : regard||Respects : compliments|
|Work : duty||Words : creations|
(a) Abstract Nouns have no plural. For example:
Hope, charity, love, kindness, happiness, hatred etc.
When such words do appear in his plural form, they are used as common nouns. For example:
1. Kindnesses = acts of kindness.
2. Provocations = instances or cases of Provocations.
(b) There are also some names of substances or materials which are never used in plurals. They are called Material Nouns. For example:
Copper, iron, tin, wood etc.
But, when these words are used in the plural, they become Common nouns and also, their meanings are changed. For example:
1. Coppers = copper coins.
2. Irons = fetters.
3. Tins = cans made of tin.
4. Woods = forests.