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It seems the correct sentence would be :

Raise up the dead

Though "dead" is supposed to be about dead things or persons, which would be plural. So why wouldn't we say :

Raise up the deads

?

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    Most such "adjectives used as nouns" are effectively uncountable nouns (For the many, not the few, Bring out your dead, The meek shall inherit the earth,...). But I can think of at least one case where we only normally see the plural form: We charge a deposit on our bottles, which is refunded if you bring back the empties ( = the empty bottles). It's not very idiomatic to refer to a single empty bottle as "the empty". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 20 at 18:51
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the dead (when used as a noun) is what is known as an uncountable noun. It is similar to many other words which describe something made up of a varying number of other things, or where divisions are hard to define, such as "rice", or "music".

For these words, singular vs. plural does not actually make any sense (you would not say "playing musics", because no matter how much of it you play, it's all still just (uncountable) "music"). Likewise, with uncountable nouns (as the name implies) you can't talk about numbers of them, or use the indefinite article (which implies there's potentially more than one), so for example, you also cannot say "a dead" (you would instead need to say "a dead person").

(Alternately, there is also another way to look at this in the case of dead: The noun "dead" is essentially short for "dead people", so it is arguably already plural. It has no singular form.)

  • It's an adjective in this case, isn't it? – Michael Harvey Nov 20 at 17:49
  • "dead" can be both an adjective and a noun, and I suppose in some cases it could be treated either way (actually, looking at your answer, I think both of our answers could be considered valid ways of looking at things). If you look in most dictionaries, though, you will see the "dead" listed as a noun meaning something along the lines of "those who have died", which is the sense that I believe is being used here (the MW dictionary even gives an example sentence of "They were among the dead." for the noun form, which I think is directly equivalent to this case) – Foogod Nov 20 at 18:42
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Certain groups of people are referred to using 'the' followed by an adjective, when the group members share a condition denoted by the adjective. The young, the old, the newborn, the dead, the brave, the rich, the poor (etc).

Adjectives are often used without nouns.

To refer to some well-known groups of people

The structure the + adjective is used to talk about some well-known groups of people. Examples are: the blind, the deaf, the unemployed, the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the dead etc.

Adjectives used without nouns

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Dead is a condition to put on an object. You wouldn't say "Look at those deads people, you would say "look at those dead people". The people is implied at the end of the sentence. So in actuality you are saying "Raise the dead [people/person]." where the bracket is omitted.

  • I think what you are trying to say is that adjectives don't have a plural form in English. "The dead" means "dead people". – Kate Bunting Nov 20 at 17:30

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