I know that noun adjuncts or attributive nouns (are they the same?) are usually singular. However, I often see native English speakers using plural forms in such nouns. For example, the following sentence. Is not the first sentence below incorrect and the second option should be used instead? I read the first option in scientific papers written by native English speakers very often.

  1. The population genetics analysis revealed extensive hybridization between the two species.
  2. The population genetic analysis revealed extensive hybridization between the two species.

Are there particular instances where noun adjuncts or attributive nouns can be plural?

  • No, genetics is always plural Take note of this: The Brits say drugs war with no apostrophe or maths exam. [The genetic analysis of the population, by the way. Genetics is a field. I would never use genetics analysis here.
    – Lambie
    Sep 24 at 18:19
  • 2
    @Lambie I should add that "population genetics" is a field of research. So, does it make sense to read "population genetics analyses" as "analyses of the field of population genetics"? I see both "population genetics analyses" and "population genetic analyses" very often in journal articles by native English speakers. What I don't know is whether both are correct.
    – goshawk
    Sep 24 at 18:27
  • If I understand the technical aspect of the usage correctly, I believe only the first sentence (the plural version) is correct, and the second would be incorrect. That's because as you said, "population genetics" is the name of the field of research, and it is inherently plural (what would "a genetic" be, after all). Just like you might take a statistics course, but never a "statistic" course. Sep 24 at 22:50
  • So the distinction between the example sentences you've given doesn't really seem to pertain to attributive nouns in general, only to whether that specific one is inherently singular or plural in form. Sep 24 at 22:53
  • Google Ngram shows that 2. is the most commonly used. link
    – BillJ
    Sep 25 at 6:38


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .