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I thought the plurality could be not much of a matter because it has a letter "s" in the end but each news is counted as a news article or newspaper or so. But after reading this passage by Shakespeare, it made me think about how the plurality of the concept of news is treated in English (both historically and now):

MACBETH

LADY MACBETH: [to the SERVANT] What is your tidings?

(Modern translation by Sparknotes): What news do you bring?

It seems like "tidings" is "news," so it's either plural or singular (as a mass noun). It's really thought provoking and making me so curious what it actually means to say, "news".

Here's what I've come up so far:

  • News is telling something that has happened.
  • Or no, a news is a piece of such information.
  • News can be broken up into units of what thing is conveying such a piece.

But I'm not sure I'm right. I need to share opinions.

So I want to ask you to define "news," and how it's treated in the language. Learners are fine too, as they can compare with their own language, giving me insights.

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    News is uncountable, like "information" or "advice". You can't count them so there is no plural. – Teleporting Goat Feb 10 '17 at 17:25
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"News" is a "mass noun" that does not have a plural, sort of like "gravel" or "luggage". So, you can say:

I have some news.

The news is really bad. We lost the war and the king was killed. [Two facts, but still "the news is".]

You cannot say:

Somebody told me a news today. [Even if it is just one piece of news.]

(Etymologically, "news" arose as the plural of "new", but it no longer is thought of that way.)

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    The term you're looking for is "uncountable". (not "mass noun") – Teleporting Goat Feb 10 '17 at 17:24
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    I would have used a Macbeth reference: "The news is really bad -- the trees are coming to get you." – Andrew Feb 10 '17 at 17:31
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    @TeleportingGoat - Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster seem to think "mass noun" is a valid term for the concept. I think they're synonyms. – Mark Foskey Feb 10 '17 at 17:50
  • If news is always uncountable, why did Shakespeare use "tidings", not just "tiding"? The extra 's' would seem redundant? Is it just because English is a living language and there's quirks like that? – Kim YuJin Feb 10 '17 at 18:50
  • @KimYuJin "Tidings" is still an uncountable/mass noun today. – Matt Cline Feb 10 '17 at 20:04

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