In an online English test I found that "bad news seem" is wrong, the correct would be "bad news seems" as in the sentence:

Bad news seems to be more attractive than good news.

I'm considering news is a plural, but I could be wrong. Someone said about uncountable nouns. Other said about news being singular. Could anyone explain to me why the use of the "s" and also if news is both singular what and uncountable and how can I tell if any other word follows the same conjugation?

  • The answers to this question may be helpful: A problem with “news” – ColleenV Mar 18 '19 at 20:34
  • News used to be plural, but is no longer. Peas has gone the other way: it used to be uncountable but is now plural and has gained a singular "pea". – Colin Fine Mar 18 '19 at 21:08
  • Upvoted for being a contributor who has made a good effort to understand and answer the question themselves, and included good detail. – fred2 Mar 22 '19 at 0:29

"News is not the plural of "A new". "News" is an uncountable noun. For example, we say,

Is there much news today? (not "Are there many news today?")

Uncountable nouns are singular and so the third person singular form of the verb is used. Therefore bad news seems... is correct.

  1. Why the use of s in seem_s_:

News is a collection of information on recent events. We cannot count how many is in the collection, so the noun news is uncountable. We don't say "8 news", "many news" or "I've got a news" because 8, many and a can be counted. What we do is:

Add a quantifier to make news countable and say: "8 articles of news"

Use much for uncountable nouns and say: "much news"

Omit "a" and say: "I've got news"

News has a plural ending (the s  in news makes it appear plural; there is no "newses") and followed by a singular verb. Hence, "news seems" is correct.

  1. Is news both singular what and uncountable?

News is an uncountable noun that take singular verbs (new_s_ seems) and use singular forms of words such as this or that ("this news seems good", "that news was good").

  1. How can I tell if any other word follows the same conjugation?

I'm not quite sure what you mean here, but on the subject - verb agreement of words such as news,

" Uncountable nouns that have a plural ending (mathematics, academics, aerodynamics etc.) take a singular verb, so the verb is conjugated in the singular: "Mathematics fascinates me." "Mathematics has fascinated me."

Therefore, these types of words follow the same conjugation.

I hope this is helpful.


Historically, "news" was actually the plural of "new". That's why the 's' is there. However, over time, people thought of it as a kind of stuff, not a bunch of things - that is, a mass or uncountable noun. Since uncountable nouns are treated as singular for verb agreement, I would argue that both answers you heard were correct.

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