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I researched the word sheep, and its special singular and plural features. I understand plural and singular is the same and it can take "is" or "are" and the word will not change. I read many sentences and they all focus on plural form won't change. However, they don't focus on the combination "Sheep+no article+IS......"

Here is what I have concluded:

  • A sheep is grazing.(correct)

  • The sheep is grazing (correct)

  • The sheep are grazing. (correct)

  • Sheep are grazing. (correct)

  • Sheep is grazing. (!!!!!!!!)

As you see, I tried to list some alternatives and but the last one really confuses me.

When it comes to usage of sheep without the article "A", it seems that it always means plural. In other words, "Sheep is grazing" wouldn't not be possible without the article "A". In other words, "Sheep" can not be followed by the auxiliary "IS" unless it starts with "A SHEEP......".. This is what I conclude.

I researched but I could not find any explanation whether I can say "Sheep is grazing" (without the article "a" to refer to a sheep. I came to conclusion that "Sheep is grazing" would be wrong.

Still, as a non-native speaker, I can't be sure. Would it be wrong if I say "Sheep is grazing." (without the article "a") to refer to a sheep?

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    A car is moving, The car is moving, The cars are moving, Cars are moving. But you can't use the singular with no article, so Car is moving and Sheep is moving are both invalid. Feb 27, 2023 at 19:17
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    "sheep is grazing" is not grammatical, as you have ascertained, And this applies to all animal nouns that don't take an s in the plural: moose, elk, deer, salmon, trout. For example. There are others. And fish, in terms of catching them.
    – Lambie
    Feb 27, 2023 at 19:18
  • I asked this because many grammer sites say "sheep" can be plural or singular, and you can't understand from the look of the work and that you can only understand from the context if a sentence is about a sheep or many sheep. However, I saw that no, it is always plural without the article "A", there is nothing special about it.
    – Yunus
    Feb 27, 2023 at 19:32
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    yunus: Not quite - if I say "I'll sell you my sheep", only context tells you whether I'm offering a single sheep or a whole flock. I might have said "I'll sell you a sheep" in the former case, but no-one would normally say "I'll sell you sheep" with no "determiner" at all in the second case. Feb 27, 2023 at 19:58
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    @FumbleFingers, Ah yes, that is what I missed apparently. This is where the context come into play. I learned a new thing. Thanks again.
    – Yunus
    Feb 27, 2023 at 20:00

1 Answer 1

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"Sheep is grazing" is incorrect, for the reasons you have stated. Is is a singular verb conjugation, so you must be referring to a singular sheep. But referring to a singular count noun with no determiner is an error.

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