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I have a curiosity, something that I was never given an explanation to and I have to ask for some kind of clarification to get a better understanding.

From the title of my post, it may seem a little odd, but here is what I want to know about.

I know there are several words such as "hand towel" or like the above example "dish drying mat" and the thing is that I have a friend who also knows English but I don't understand why she keeps insisting to write in this way: "Hands towel" or "dishes drying mat". While it's true that in our language it implies the plural (which we would literary translates like for example: Towel for hands), I keep telling her that in English it doesn't sound right and it she doesn't have to necessary write the respective word in plural, just because it's like that in our language.

I don't know how can I explain further but perhaps there are rules in other languages when it comes to the use of singular and plural but I would require an explanation for it, if there is any. I'm sorry if I didn't explain properly, but this was brought up several times by this friend of mine and it just seems so strange the way she would write those words and similar others in that manner and it makes me cringe whenever I read her translations of stuff that we do.

marked as duplicate by StoneyB, J.R. Sep 28 '17 at 11:16

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The question does make sense and I can see why your friend would think that a towel for drying your hands is called a hands towel.

I don't have any information to back up why this is the case but as a native English speaker we would say hand towel and the same would apply for a dish drying mat.

  • Yes, I know but since we are doing adaptions in English we should stick to these forms and honestly when I kept seeing words such as "candles holder" or "flower pots stand", I did not like the sound of them at all. I'm not a native but honestly, I don't think those forms, whether written or spoken are common at all...It was just really weird when I heard those translation with plural from my friend, I was like: "Huuuh?? – Alice B. Rabbit Sep 28 '17 at 10:56

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