Consider the following sentence:

When Harry pulled back his sheets, he found his invisibility cloak folded neatly underneath them.

From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

I would suppose that he pulled one sheet, but the plural usage of the word "sheet" bewilders me. Does it mean the same as just one sheet or does it really mean multiple ones?

  • Why are you so sure he only had one sheet?
    – gotube
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


There could be multiple individual bedsheets, or the plural sheets may refer to bedding in general (a sheet plus a blanket, for example).

Expressions like pull back the sheets and under the sheets are common in the plural. Some speakers may use the plural in these expressions even if there aren't literally multiple sheets.

Google ngram frequencies for pull back sheet(s)/cover(s), lying under the sheet(s)/cover(s)

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