Skills

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Singular vs. Plural

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English nouns can be classified as count (singular and plural) and non-count.

The singular form is used when considering the noun as a single item (count) or entity (non-count).

brick


dog


airplane


person


foot


water


sugar


truth


education

The plural form is used when considering more than one of the same item. Non-count nouns do not have a plural form.

bricks


dogs


airplanes


people


feet

Things to be aware of:

Regular plurals

Most plurals are formed by adding -s or -es to the singular noun:

boys


cars


pens


pills


pronounce /z/

cats


rocks


tips


chiefs


pronounce /s/

kisses


watches


boxes


dishes


pronounce /Iz/

In some cases, there are special spelling rules that need to be considered when forming the plural.

knives


hobbies


quizzes

Irregular plurals

Some nouns take on a different form in the plural:

women


teeth


mice


children


people

Non-count nouns

Non-count nouns do not have a plural form; however, some nouns can be used in both the count and non-count sense:

I have a lot of experience.


I have a lot of experiences.

Third-person singular "-s"

Singular and non-count nouns (in the third person) require the "-s" form of the verb in the present tense.

The girl loves painting.

My dog likes to eat meat.

Johnny lives next door to Jenny.

Milk contains nutrients.

Tommy has two hobbies.

Jerry is from Colorado.

Singular count nouns require an article (the, a, an) unless

they are "proper" nouns

Mr. Jones went to Arizona.

they are preceded by a possessive

My mother loves my father.

they are preceded by this, that, each, every, either, neither, or one.

Each man contributed one dollar.

(Wrong: Apple is on table. [Articles are required.])

The/An apple is on the table.

Plural nouns and singular non-count nouns do not require an article in the "generic" sense:

Water is important for plants.

However, they require articles (the, some) in most other cases.

Please put some wine in the glasses.

See also:

Grammar: Subject-Verb Agreement

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Last updated: 15 February, 2010 02:43:16