The Number of the Noun

Topics: Grammatical number, English plural, Plural Pages: 21 (5628 words) Published: February 4, 2013

Introduction----------------------------------------------------------------------------------2 Regular plurals------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Almost regular plurals---------------------------------------------------------------------5 Irregular plurals-----------------------------------------------------------------------------7 Irregular – (e)n plurals--------------------------------------------------------------------6 Umlaut plurals-------------------------------------------------------------------------------7 Irregular plurals from Latin and Greek------------------------------------------------7 Words better known in the plural-----------------------------------------------------10 Plurals of numbers-----------------------------------------------------------------------11 Plurals and units of measure----------------------------------------------------------11 Plurals of headless nouns--------------------------------------------------------------11 Nouns with multiple plurals-------------------------------------------------------------12 Plurals of names of people-------------------------------------------------------------15 Irregular plural from other languages------------------------------------------------15 Plurals of compound nouns------------------------------------------------------------15 Plurals of symbols and initialism------------------------------------------------------17 Uncountable nouns-----------------------------------------------------------------------18 Singularia tantum (only singular) -----------------------------------------------------20 Pluralia tantum (only plural) -----------------------------------------------------------24 Reference-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------28

INTRODUCTIONNumber is the form of the noun which shows weather we speak of one thing or of more than one. Accordingly there are two numbers: the singular and the plural. The essential meaning of singular and plural seems clear enough: The singular noun shows that one object is meant and the plural shows that more than one object is meant. Thus the opposition is “one-more than one”. This holds good for many nouns:

Table- tables, pupil-pupils, dog-dogs, however, language facts are not always as simple as that. The category of numbers in English nouns gives rise to several problems which claim special attention. First of all it is to be noted that there is some difference, say, between three houses and three hours. Whereas three houses are three separate objects existing side by side, three hours are a continuous period of time measured by certain agreed unit of duration. If we now turn to such plurals as waters /like the waters of the Atlantic/, we shall see that grammatical in its origin is apt under certain conditions to be overshadowed by a lexical difference.

REGULAR PLURALSThe plural morpheme in English is suffixed to the end of most nouns. The plural form is usually represented orthographically by adding -s to the singular form (see exceptions below). The phonetic form of the plural morpheme is [z] by default. When the preceding sound is a voiceless consonant, it is pronounced [s]. Examples: boyboys/bɔɪz/

Where a noun ends in a sibilant sound—[s], [ʃ], [ʧ], [z], [ʒ], or [ʤ]—the plural is formed by adding [ɪz] (also pronounced [əz]), which is spelled -es if the word does not already end with -e: dish dishes/dɪʃɪz/

glass glasses/glæsɪz/
witch witches/wɪʧɪz/
Morphophonetically, these rules are sufficient to describe most English plurals. However, there are several complications introduced in spelling. The -oes rule: most nouns ending in o preceded by a consonant also form their plurals by adding -es (pronounced [z]): heroheroes

cargo cargoes
echo echoes
All nouns ending in –o...
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