Do we say "line" or "lines"?

The entry for line is:

  1. Usu., lines. the words of an actor's part in a drama, musical comedy, etc.

It says it's usually plural, but they don't say when it's singular. Do we use the singular if the line is just a sentence? And do we use the plural when we're talking about more than two sentences?

For example:

I said the following line "I am about to tell a really good one, because I thought about this joke since the morning and the morning thereafter, and I have refined it until this very last minute!" on stage.


Yes you are essentially correct.

Lines would either refer to more than one snippet of speech that an actor says or all the snippets of speech that an actor says in a scene/act/show. It can also refer to these snippets in a general sense -

I am good at learning lines.

States that "I" is generally good at memorizing and remembering what they are supposed to say while acting.

Line would typically be used for just the next snippet of speech. I say snippet because sometimes the "line" is not a full sentence because people don't always talk in full sentences. If an actor forgets the very next snippet they are supposed to say while filming a music they may shout "What's my line" with the singular as opposed to the plural.

  • Note that a line does not mean a sentence. A line of dialogue can be any number of sentences. A three-page monologue could be considered a line of dialogue. It's simply a period of talking that's uninterrupted by somebody (or something) else. Breaking it into sentences is just a way of visually representing what's being said. What's my line? just means What do I say? – Jason Bassford Jul 11 '19 at 15:11

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