Is the following sentence correct?

There aren't lifeguards services in this season

Specifically, I’m wondering if the word services should be plural or singular.

closed as off-topic by Jason Bassford, SamBC, Lamplighter, Lambie, shin Mar 15 at 9:46

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    Good question. I wanted to ask too, such as "translation service" or "translation services". – Kentaro Tomono Mar 10 at 10:02
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    Welcome, SunnySideDown. I recommend taking a look through our Contributor’s Guide. We don’t answer proofreading questions here, which is what this question looked like until I happened to notice your title. The Contributor’s Guide has a lot of good tips for asking questions and giving them titles. Welcome aboard! – J.R. Mar 10 at 11:04

The word "service" is very complicated, in usage. You can give service to someone or something, which is basically the same thing as saying that you serve that person or thing. A service can also be an organisation, such as the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly Women's Royal Voluntary Service), a UK charity, or a police service, fire and rescue service, or indeed a lifeguard service. Countries have their armed services, often consisting of an army, a navy, and an air force - and maybe a separate service for marines. The army is one armed service. As such, this is a countable noun.

When you give service, though, service is a mass (uncountable) noun. On the other hand, you can provide (a) service(s). Giving service usually means something that isn't just about being paid to do something - often you aren't being paid at all, when it's voluntary service, such as to your church or a local charity. When you are in the military, that's often referred to as giving service, and you may find politicians thanking you for your service. That's because there's a deliberate effort to giving more status to being in the military than it just being a job.

When you provide a service or provide services, the word service refers to something that you do for people or organisations. You might provide a valet service for cars (which seems to mean something different in America and Britain), or a copywriting service to businesses that need text for their website or adverts. Or you may provide several services.

Now, the verb most closely associated with service is, as I've mentioned, to serve. However, service has also become a verb in its own right, such as the idea that you get a mechanic to service your car, meaning to give it a good mechanical going over to make sure everything works, replace worn or end-of-life parts, and so on. If you've taken your car to be serviced, you can say it's "gone in to be serviced", or "gone in for a service", particularly if it's gone in for, say, it's **50,000 mile service", a manufacturer-recommended thorough service to be taken once it has 50,000 miles on the clock (milometer).

So, service, in all its myriad meanings, can be a singular or plural noun, a mass noun, or a verb. As a noun, it can also be used attributively, such as service centre, a centre where service is provided - often a service whereby some equipment (such as a car) is serviced.

In the case of the OP's question, we can interpret things in several ways. "Lifeguard services" could mean several organisations that do what lifeguards do - save people from drowning, largely - or it could mean those very actions as services in the sense of things one person does for another. However, if there is normally only one organisation providing such services in the area, it could be singular to refer to that organisation.

Finally, while lifeguard here is attributive, it could be genitive instead - lifeguard's or lifeguards', to indicate that it is closely associated with one or several lifeguards. That would be unusual, but perfectly grammatical and semantically valid.

So, there are different options, and they have slightly different meanings or implications, but "lifeguard service", "lifeguard services", "lifeguard's service", "lifeguards' service", "lifeguard's services" and "lifeguards' services" are all perfectly valid and reasonable terms that might be used. If you want to know what's generally used, you'll need to do some research.

The version in the question, however, "lifeguards services", is not something you would ever expect to see. It's not genitive, as there's no apostrophe, so it ought to be attributive - but attributive nouns should be singular.

  • Thank you for your answer (though I'm not the OP). So in summary, the word service is a "massive" word(s), it (or they) are "malleable" word(s), am I kind of correct here? – Kentaro Tomono Mar 10 at 19:46
  • "Malleable" would suggest you can change to to fit different things. That's not exactly the case - it just has several uses that are sometimes only subtly different. – SamBC Mar 10 at 20:46

What do we mean by services in this particular context? I think we are talking about "help given to someone, especially by using one's skills, ability, or knowledge" (Macmillan Dictionary). In this case "service" can be both countable and uncountable, according to the same dictionary. If you mean something like “our lifeguards will not be doing those things they normally have to, they will not work this season,” use “services.” Here’s another example:

Sarah offered her services as a childminder for the day. (they say "services" because there were a few things she actually had to do as a childminder, there were a few responsibilities she offered to accept) (the sentence is from the Macmillan Dictionary)

According to the Collins Dictionary, your services (plural) are the things that you do or the skills that you use in your job, which other people find useful and are usually willing to pay you for. This sounds like the lifeguard services from your sentence because lifeguards' services are things they do, and which other people pay for. Here's an example from Collins:

The performers have all offered their services free of charge.

Therefore, I consider your sentence "There aren't lifeguards services in this season" correct. "There aren't lifeguard services" is also correct. "There isn't lifeguard service" is also correct. But it's a bit different from "there aren't lifeguard services." A service is something that the public needs, such as transport, communications facilities, hospitals, or energy supplies, which is provided in a planned and organized way by the government or an official body. Therefore, when one says "there isn't lifeguard service," I understand that this need is not met. When I hear "There aren't lifeguard services," I understand that there are few services lifeguards provide, but for some reason they are not going to do it this season.

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    So it can be "lifeguards services" and "lifeguard services"? Both are correct? – SunnySideDown Mar 10 at 14:54
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    @SunnySideDown basically, both are grammatically correct. But I'd prefer "lifeguard services" because what matters is the nature of the services, not the fact that there may be a few people providing those services. – Enguroo Mar 10 at 14:57
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    Service as a noun exists in singular. Police service. Military service. Even lifeguard service. You can provide a service to someone. You can provide services to someone. You have telephone and maybe cable or satellite service to your home. You take your car in for a 50,000 mile service. Service as a singular, non-attributive noun, most certainly exists. – SamBC Mar 10 at 18:42
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    @Enguroo: Other users in this thread suggested that it doesn't. I also disagree that duties and responsibilities always means plural, except in the sense that if it's plural duties and/or responsibilities it will generally be plural. But there's always "I'd like to make use of your archiving service", for example. You may be confusing Collins sense 7 with sense 3 as shown at collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/service – SamBC Mar 10 at 22:21
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    @Enguroo - Your answer seems to say that either word could be used, but the plural is the “better” choice, because lifeguards do more than one thing. I feel like either word could be used, and the plural is no better than the singular. – J.R. Mar 11 at 8:53

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