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I was writing an essay and I had a debate on sentence structure and whether there is a plural for pathetic fallacy. Do you write:

There was lot of pathetic fallacy.

or

There was a lot of pathetic fallacies in the book.

What would you write if you wanted to make good use of sentence structure? Is that the plural?

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It is "the Pathetic Fallacy", so there will be no plural. We can find many examples of the pathetic fallacy in a book, but not many pathetic fallacies.

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It's like asking for the plural of "catch 22". Catches 22? Catch 22s?

  • Thanks for pointing this out. I substituted "adjective" for "pathetic" in my mind and didn't think about it being a named logical fallacy. – ColleenV Nov 21 '14 at 23:25
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Fallacy can be used as a mass noun to refer to faulty reasoning in general or as a count noun to refer to a single failure in reasoning (or multiple instances if you are using the plural).

If you are going to use the plural, be sure to check your verb for agreement:

There were a lot of fallacies in the book

I think that it is OK to use the mass noun and that it is a matter of style whether you choose one form over the other.

There was a lot of fallacy in the book.
The book was full of fallacy.

If you are referring to a specific fallacy, like pathetic fallacy you shouldn't use the mass noun. As @TRomano mentioned, you should say something like

There were many examples of pathetic fallacy in the book.
The book is filled with pathetic fallacies.

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Adjectives don’t matter when forming plurals.

The plural form of “fallacy” is “fallacies”.¹

Number agreement demands “were” (not “was”) to correspond with the plural “fallacies”.


Additional notes:

Literary analysis is generally conducted in the present tense (strictly speaking, the book currently contains as many fallacies as it did when you read it), so “are [. . .] fallacies” may be preferred. Here is some advice about literary criticism.

Whether or not you choose to pluralize “fallacy”, it’s not especially clear what you mean by “pathetic” and that descriptor seems unnecessarily harsh for constructive work.

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