Some words seem as if they are plural, but they are treated as if they are singular. In American English we generally think of the following words as singular:
family team class navy army school university Poland Malaysia
The university teaches many subjects. (The university is singular.)
Isaan is a name for northeast Thailand. (singular)
My team is winning. (singular)
In American English we treat collective nouns as if they are singular. But if individuals or things in the group are identified separately, then we add a plural word and a plural verb form. Take notice of the two examples below.
- Her family is big. 2. My class is big.
The people in her family are all nice. The students in my class are all Thai.
But some collective nouns can be thought of as singular when considered as a whole or plural when we think of each person or item separately.
|All of this data is correct.
The staff is new.
The committee has ten members.
|The data have errors.
The staff are sitting over there.
The committee are talking to one another.
Some animals have a special word to designate a group.
A pride of lions. – A herd of cattle.
A school of sharks. – A colony of bats.
An adjective of quality (elderly, rich, young, etc.) can represent a group of people, but such a group is considered plural. A pronoun such as many can also represent a group of people.
The poor suffer greatly in South Africa. The old are treated well in Switzerland.
Many suffered in the hot weather.
2-7// Questions About the Singular and Plural
Answer the questions. You can give one-word answers.
- I like your house.
How many houses does the speaker like? ___________________
- A child is crying.
How many children are crying? ______________________
- An apple is on the desk.
How many apples are on the desk? ____________________
- Both mice are under the refrigerator.
How many mice are under the refrigerator? _____________
- A mouse is under the table.
How many mice are under the table? __________________
2-8// People: Singular and Plural
Singular means one. Plural means more than one. Read the words below and fill in the blanks.
One Two +
1. She has three _________________. (baby)
2. Many ______________ study English. (student)
book books 3. There are no __________ on the table. (book)
monk monks (we often use the plural with a negative or unknown amount)
4. Both _______________ are British. (teacher)
5. How many ______________ are here? (person)
6. A ______________ is here to see you. (man)
Sergeant Major Sergeants Major
* It is possible to say persons as the plural of person. Persons is very formal. It is sometimes used on signs.
Please read the examples below. These sentences refer to people in the singular.
He is from Thailand.
The child is playing.
A woman is here to see you.
The singer is from Chiang Mai.
Now read through these sentences. They refer to people in the plural.
They are from Thailand.
The children are playing.
The women are here to see you.
The singers are from Chiang Mai.
If people are joined by the word and in the subject of a sentence, then the subject is considered plural.
The teacher and the student are in the office. (The teacher is in the office.)
Mr. and Mrs.Somchai are going to Bangkok. (He is going to Bangkok.)
Refer to things in general using the plural.
I like movies.
I enjoy singing pop songs with my friends.
He likes to read short stories.
Refer to part of a group by using of the.
One of the students is from France. One of students is from France.
Some of the teachers are Russian. Some of teachers are Russian.
Four of the men are French. Four of men are French.
A group of people can be designated by words such as young, elderly, and homeless. These words do not take an -s. They are already plural.
The homeless in America get free food.
The young should study hard in school.
A tsunami has struck Hawaii. The injured are asking for help.
Arisa likes to help the elderly. Arisa likes to help the elderlies.
Periods of time are singular.
Three years is a long time.
Ten minutes is not a long time to wait at my dentist’s office.
A negative or unknown quantity usually takes the plural.
No hotels in this area have a French restaurant.
Have you seen any good movies this month?