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Perhaps this is a silly question, but still:

Can only nouns can be plural in English? In other words, the plurality "term" doesn't usually apply to any other part of speech, correct?

4
  • Not that I am aware of. But wait and see answers by others. Nov 25 '13 at 18:11
  • At first I wondered if interjections could be pluralized: Oohs and aahs rippled through the crowd as the magician pulled a rabbit from his hat. However, in that sentence, those words are interjections functioning as plural nouns; they are not true interjections. Ouch! Also, can plural nouns be made plural? Perhaps on occasion: What has it got in its pocketses? :^)
    – J.R.
    Nov 25 '13 at 22:12
  • @J.R.- I was just thinking about Gollum too and wondering whether he might say, "Ouches" if he were poked with a small sword.
    – Jim
    Nov 26 '13 at 2:31
  • Verbs need to be singular or plural to agree with the subject.
    – WBT
    Sep 24 '16 at 13:57
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In English, it's mostly nouns that take a plural mark, and in particular adjectives don't. There are however other words that take a plural mark:

  • some (but not all) pronouns: “I see the house, I see it” vs “I see the houses, I see them
  • some (but not all) determiners: “I see a house” vs “I see houses”

The indicative present form of verbs is also different for the third person singular and for the third person plural (“I see”, “she sees”, “they see”). With the verb be, this also applies to the simple past, and for both the present and the simple past, the first person singular takes a different mark (“I am”, “she is”, “we are”, “they are”; “I was”, “she was”, “we were”, “they were”).

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  • I sometimes see "∅" on this site. What does it mean? It is the null set, right? So is it meant to mark the "absence" of something? Is this a common convention?
    – Gray
    Nov 26 '13 at 13:47
  • @Gray www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/…
    – user230
    Nov 26 '13 at 14:56
  • @snailboat Thanks - that does explain it. Is this something people learning English would know about? I would be uncomfortable using this where the target audience wasn't linguists, not even for native speakers, much less for those who are just beginning to grasp English grammar. I can definitely see how it would be helpful with a highly technical answer though.
    – Gray
    Nov 26 '13 at 15:02
  • @Gray This isn't something that students of English would know about any more than students of other languages. It's only familiar to people with an undergraduate (or high school, depending on the country) education in math, or to linguists. It's very convenient to emphasize the absence of a word though. Do you think linking to an explanation is enough? (You can also ignore it, and you'd interpret the example correctly.) Nov 26 '13 at 16:41
  • 1
    @Gilles Your last sentence is an amusing point; that is true. I have a hard time ignoring something that I don't know what it means. The link is non-intrusive, so if someone already knows, they can ignore it. It is also obvious enough that someone who isn't sure can simply click it. I definitely think it would help people like me, but I don't know how common people like me are. I can definitely see it being perfectly normal to omit it on English.se, but maybe it is better to have the link here. Just my opinion, and thanks for your response.
    – Gray
    Nov 26 '13 at 16:51
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Well, in a way, yes. Other parts of speech have to agree with the noun.

Verbs

  • "He goes" vs. "They go"
  • "We sing vs. "She sings"
  • "The dogs bark" vs. "The dog barks"

Adjectives

I can't think of adjectives that have different forms like verbs, but there are certainly adjectives that only apply to plural things.

  • There are numerous choices
  • I have countless problems

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  • 1
    Adjectives that apply only to plural things is a syntactic-semantic restriction, though, not actual morphological plurality. Similarly, there are verbs that require plural arguments, i.e., they require a plural subject if used intransitively, and are then seen as reciprocal: they kissed (but not *he kissed), they are arguing (but not *he is arguing), etc. That doesn’t mean that these verbs are any more ‘plural’ than other verbs, just that they have a syntactic-semantic restriction on the minimum number of arguments they require. Nov 26 '13 at 12:24
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Fair point. I mostly agree with what you said. But clearly you can say "he kissed her" or "he is arguing with her." I cant think of any good examples of what you are saying for verbs. Every example I can think of that only applies to plurals can then be made to apply to singular in the past tense (like "kissed").
    – Gray
    Nov 26 '13 at 13:46
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    Yes, you can say that—but that is using the verb as a transitive verb, where it still has two arguments: both a subject and an object/adverbial argument. As such, those constructions are still ‘plural’ in the sense that there are two ‘verbal participants’ involved. Nov 26 '13 at 13:50
  • Ah, that is something I didn't consider. Even "he debated with himself" still has two participants, as you said (he and himself). That is not something I ever really thought about - thanks.
    – Gray
    Nov 26 '13 at 13:56
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There is no plural form for verbs / adjectives instead they're altered to refer to a plural subject. *

Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do.

*

For verb: Its an action of the subject it refers to. That action is one and done by many subjects.

For Adjective: Its the property of the noun which it refers to and it can't have it in plural. Countless problems - Countless is the property of the problems and i don't find it to be plural in sense.

But pronouns make some sense in plural. I'm not a native English speaker though.

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