Could you please explain to me why we can use the indefinite article with plural words in the case with woods? I'm puzzled because I have come across this in The Times.
She was found in a woods near...
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Sometimes woods has a singular meaning (a dense growth of trees) and then yes, you can use the indefinite or definite article.
The phrase the woods is understood rather like "the dentist" or "the doctor"; it does not have to refer to a particular woods:
There are dangerous animals in the woods.
In the more than a decade that has rolled by since that day, I have reached the point where I will hardly consider a woods early in the grouse season unless it is fenced off, serves as summer pasture for cows, and the walking is easy.
But if you have visited an area that has enough trees and bushes so that you couldn't be seen in there by anyone on the outside, you may think of that area as a woods when you answer this questionnaire.
Even if your child has seen only a shadowy grove of ten trees in the park, when you call it a woods, she will get the symbolic meaning of “woods.”
Then the survivors, most of them wounded, got up and ran to a woods.
Or this one as used by the lexicographers at the Middle English Dictionary for the noun wọ̄de:
(e) in phrases, cpds., and combs. denoting portions or constituent parts of woods: ~ bough (ris, wonde), coll. forest boughs, the forest canopy; ~ egge (eves, hem, rime, side), wodes eves (side), the edge of a forest, border or margins of a woods [see also side n. 3b.(c)]; wode(s ende, an outlying portion of a woods, edge of a forest; ~ shaue, q.v.; wodes shaue, shaue of the ~, a dense forest thicket, forest canopy; ~ wei, q.v.; wodes wei, a woodland road or path, forest track;
Woods is overwhelmingly a plural noun meaning a forested area. We would need a good reason to defy this and use an indefinite article, although the usage is not strictly incorrect.