Confusion of number
The following can’t be used in the plural:
Don’t say: Nick gave me some good advices.
√ Say: Nick gave me some good advice.
Note: When we mean only one thing we say a piece of advice –> Let me give you a piece of advice.
Don’t say: Can you give me any informations?
√ Say: Can you give me any information?
Note: When we mean only one thing we say an item or a bit of information –> He gave me a useful item of information.
Don’t say: Furnitures are often made of wood.
√ Say: Furniture is often made of wood.
Note: Furniture is a singular noun and always takes a singular verb and pronoun.
A piece of furniture means one thing only.
Don’t say: Her luggages are at the station.
✓ Say: Her luggage is at the station.
Note: Baggage another word for luggage, can’t be used in the plural either –> The baggage is ready for the train.
Don’t say: The fire caused many damages.
✓ Say: The fire caused much damage.
Note: The plural form damages denotes money paid to make good a loss –> The insurance company paid the man damages.
Don’t say: Today I’ve many works to do.
✓ Say: Today I’ve a lot of work to do.
Note: The plural form works means a factory or the writings 0f an author –> The works of Shakespeare are many.
I visited the steel works.
Don’t say: The school builds good characters.
✓ Say: The school builds good character.
Note: The plural form characters denotes the letters of the alphabet or the people in a book or play
Don’t say: That man has long hairs.
✓ Say: That man has long hair.
Note: When we use hair to denote a single thread, the plural form is hairs –> I found two long hairs in my food.
Don’t say: Breads are sold at the baker’s.
✓ Say: Bread is sold at the baker’s.
Note: We can say a loaf of bread and loaves of bread –> I bought a loaf (two, three, etc., loaves) of bread.
Don’t say: Yesterday we had fishes for dinner.
✓ Say: Yesterday we had fish for dinner.
Note: Fish as food or in bulk (= large numbers) is always singular. We rarely use the plural form (fishes) which denotes fish individually –> I caught three small fishes.
Don’t say: We didn’t have many fruits this summer.
✓ Say: We didn’t have much fruit this summer.
Note: We rarely use the plural form fruits which means different kinds of fruit –> Cyprus produces oranges, apricots, and other fruits.
Don’t say: The dog lay down on the grasses.
✓ Say: The dog lay down on the grass.
Don’t say: I want to buy three dozens eggs.
✓ Say: I want to buy three dozen eggs.
Note: (A dozen = 12) –> I’d like to buy a dozen eggs. When dozen isn’t preceded by a numeral (like three) or by a we use the plural form –> There were dozens of eggs.
527. Hundred, etc.
Don’t say: The town has fifty thousands people.
✓ Say: The town has fifty thousand people.
Note: Hundred, thousand, and million take the plural form if they’re rot preceded by a numeral or by a –> Thousands of people were present.
Don’t say: Ten sheeps are grazing the field.
✓ Say: Ten sheep are grazing in the field.
Note: Sheep, deer, salmon, and a few other nouns have the same form for angular and plural. We say one sheep or ten sheep.
Don’t say: Karen has good knowledges of history.
✓ Say: Karen has a good knowledge of history.
Don’t say: Tom has made great progresses.
✓ Say: Tom has made great progress.
531. Thunder and Lightning
Don’t say: There were thunders and lightnings.
✓ Say: There was thunder and lightning
Note: When only one thing is meant we say a clap of thunder and a flash or bolt of lightning
Don’t say: They’re now’ using new machineries.
✓ Say: They’re now using new machinery.
Note: Machinery is a singular noon and always takes a singular verb and pronoun. We can say a piece of machinery or pieces of machinery.
533 Mathematics, etc. + singular verb
Don’t say: Mathematics are not easy to learn.
✓ Say: Mathematics is not easy to learn.
Note: The names of sciences and subjects ending ‘i – ‘ics (like mathematics, physics, politics, gymnastics) generally take a singular verb
534. Money + singular verb
Don’t say All her money are kept in the bank.
✓ Say: All her money is kept in the bank.
Note: Money is a singular noun and always takes a singular verb and pronoun
535 News + singular verb
Don’t say: I’m glad that the news are good.
✓ Say: I’m glad that the news is good.
Note: News though plural in form, always takes a singular verb. If only one thing is meant we say a piece or an item of news –> This is a good piece of news.
536. Scissors, etc. + plural verb
Don’t say: The scissor is lying on the table.
✓ Say: The scissors are lying on the table.
Note: All names of things forming of two parts (like scissors, trousers, spectacles, shears, pliers) take a plural verb. We can say a pair of (scissors. ere) is …….
537. People + plural verb
Don’t say: There is lots of people in the cinema.
✓ Say: There are lots of people in the cinema.
Note: People, meaning nation, is singular. The plural is peoples –> The Creeks are a brave people. The peoples of Europe are often engaged in war.
538. Clothes + plural verb
Don’t say: Your cloth is very fashionable.
✓ Say: Your clothes are very fashionable.
Note: Cloth, meaning the material of which clothes are made, is singular, and has a plural form cloths (without the e) –> She cleaned the table with a cloth. Merchants sell different kinds of cloths.
539. Riches + plural verb
Don’t say: All her riches was stolen.
✓ Say: All her riches were stolen.
Note: Riches is a plural noun and always takes a plural verb
540. Wages + plural verb
Don’t say: Keith complains that his wage is low.
✓ Say: Keith complains that his wages are low.
Note: Wages is a plural noun and takes a plural verb. We say “a living wage”
Don’t say: Billiard is a very difficult game.
✓ Say: Billiards is a very difficult game.
Note: Billiards, draughts, darts are always plural, but are followed by verbs in the singular.
542. Misuse of the adjective in the plural
Don’t say: The rich have a duty to help the poors.
✓ Say: The rich have a duty to help the poor.
Note: Adjectives can’t take the plural form, even when they’re used as nouns in the plural.
543. Misuse of as well as with a plural verb
Don’t say: Tom as well as Mark are coining.
✓ Say: Tom as well as Mark is coming.
Two singular nouns joined by as well as require the verb to be singular
544. Misuse of all (= everything) with a plural verb
Don’t say: Nothing’s left; all are lost.
✓ Say: Nothing’s left; all is lost.
All meaning everything, takes a singular verb, all meaning everybody, takes a plural verb –> All of us are present.
545. Misuse of the plural before kind or sort
Don’t say: I don’t like these kind of games.
✓ Say: I don’t like this kind of game.
Or: I don’t like games of this kind.
Note: The demonstrate word (this/that etc) must agree with its noun, in the example, kind is singular and so this must agree with it.
546. Misuse of the plural with the name of a language
Don’t say: English are easier than German.
✓ Say: English is easier than German.
Names of languages are singular and always take a singular verb
547. Misuse of one and parts of one with the singular
Don’t say: I read it in one and a half hour.
✓ Say: I read it in one and a half hours.
In English, use the plural with anything greater than one, ever if it is less than two.
Singular and plural
1. We generally form the plural of nouns by adding -s or -es when the noun ends in consonant y, -ies to the singular
book church knife city journey
books churches knives cities journeys
2. The following nouns have irregular plurals:
3. We don’t use some nouns in the plural: advice, information, knowledge, news, progress, work, money, luggage, furniture, scenery, machinery or item
Note: When only one thing is meant, we say a piece of advice (information, news, work, money, furniture, luggage, machinery).
4. We don’t use some nouns in the singular: people, riches, clothes, wages, trousers, scissors, spectacles
Note: We often use names of things consisting of two parts with the word pair a pair of trousers (scissors, spectacles, etc.)
5. Some nouns have the same form for the singular as for the plural: sheep, deer, salmon
548. Misuse of the singular with a collective noun of plurality
Don’t say: The class was divided in its opinion.
✓ Say: The class were divided in their opinions.
A collective noun usually takes a singular verb, but when it denotes the individual members of the group and not the group as a whole use a plural verb.
549. The number and A number
(a) The number
Don’t say: The number of pupils are increasing.
✓ Say: The number of pupils is increasing.
(b) A number
Don’t say: A number of pupils is absent today.
✓ Say: A number of pupils are absent today.
When we precede number by the it denotes a unit and a singular. When it is preceded by a it means several or many and is plural.
550. Misuse of This for These
Don’t say: This errors are sometimes made by foreigners.
✓ Say: These errors are sometimes made by foreigners.
This changes to these if the noun that follows is in the plural
Note: Also avoid the use of this instead of the personal pronoun –> “John had the book but he gave this to his brother.” should be “John had the book but he gave It to his brother.”
551. Misuse of There is for There are
Don’t say: There is some girls waiting outside.
✓ Say: There are some girts waiting outside.
There is changes to there are if the noun that follows is the plural
552. Misuse of You was for You were
Don’t say: You was very foolish to do that.
✓ Say: You were very foolish to do that.
Was is singular and were is plural, but with the pronoun you, even when it’s singular in meaning, we always use were.
Note: In conditions and wishes we can use were with the singular –> If we’re you, I’d go. I wish I wore rich.
553. Misuse of life, etc., for lives, etc.
Don’t say: Many people lost their life at sea.
✓ Say: Many people lost their lives at sea.
In English, we use words like life, heart, soul, body, mind in the plural when they refer to more than one person.
554. Agreement of number between noun and verb
Don’t say: A large supply of toys are expected.
✓ Say: A large supply of toys is expected.
When the subject is singular, the verb must be singular and when the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. Take care when a plural noun comes between a singular subject and its verb, as in the example above.