Why do you say "multi-band antenna", not "multi-bands antenna"?

It seems to me there are multiple bands for an antenna.

And, are "multi-band antenna" and "multi-band antennas" different?


2 Answers 2


When we make a compound noun, every noun except the most significant (generally the last, but see this English Club article for examples of exceptions) is always singular.

For example, when we put together the noun caravan and the noun site, we get the compound noun caravan site: caravan is singular even though caravan site will definitely involve multiple caravans.

The last noun will be plural only if we are talking about multiples of the last noun... multiple caravan sites in my example.

  • 2
    Good answer; I'd say that this quote from the article you linked is a particularly relevant portion. "Note that with compound nouns made of [noun + noun] the first noun is like an adjective and therefore does not usually take an -s. A tree that has apples has many apples, but we say an apple tree, not apples tree; matchbox not matchesbox; toothbrush not teethbrush."
    – Katy
    Aug 22, 2019 at 4:31
  • So if this logic applies you have caravan sites that only have 1 caravan. That it is impossible to get more than 1 caravan on that site.
    – Brad
    Aug 22, 2019 at 4:41
  • @Brad No, what's happening is that caravan is functioning as an adjective, and thus does not take a grammatical plural. There may in actuality be zero, one, or more than one caravans at the caravan site, but it will never be referred to as a "caravans site".
    – Katy
    Aug 22, 2019 at 4:48
  • @ Katy agreed. But a place only one caravan can be parked will never be know as a caravan site. Antenna can/were/are made for a band width or multi Band widths. This is a technical fact, regardless if your grammar happens to agree or disagree. this is a fact. A signal has a carrier wave and a band (around) which it operates in. You cannot use multiple bands together or you would have distortion and a horrible squelching sound.
    – Brad
    Aug 22, 2019 at 5:02

"Multi-" is an adjective combining form that prefixes a singular noun (or sometimes past participle adjective) X to create an adjective that means "with several Xs". Using it with a plural noun is wrong - the plurality is already implied by the form "multi-".

You can find several examples of adjectives created using "multi-" and a singular noun in the Collins dictionary entry.

"Multiband antennas" (or antennae) is the plural of the compound noun "multiband antenna" (several antennas, each being able to receive more than one frequency band).

  • "Multi-" is an adjective combining form that prefixes a singular noun Yes I will go with this answer it is easier than all the technical stuff.
    – Brad
    Aug 22, 2019 at 7:08
  • As a usage note, at least in British English, most radio amateurs I know would say "antennas". As one radio amateur I met put it, "we have antennas, insects have antennae". Of course in British English in many (but not all) sectors, including by the general public, an antenna is usually called an aerial.
    – Muzer
    Aug 22, 2019 at 12:53
  • @whiskeychief; frequency band is not correct. A band "can" consists of many different frequencies. The bandwidth of a system is the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies which the system can carry. answers.com What feature in a radio prevents overlapping stations? All stations are fed into the radio by the antenna. The IF filters narrow the bandwidth down to the size of just one channel
    – Brad
    Aug 22, 2019 at 14:24
  • 1
    Even though I expect most of the people looking at this question to have interest in radio or electrical engineering (myself included), let's remember that this is the English Language Learners' SE... The question was not about the technical meaning of "band", so this discussion is irrelevant. Aug 22, 2019 at 15:23
  • Brad, I believe the correct wording is that a multi band antenna is capable of being efficient on more than one band, not more than one bandwidth. That’s not how I understand the term of art “bandwidth”. Aug 22, 2019 at 15:45

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