4

Check the sentence below

My hair is rather short but I usually plait it/or them?

I'm confused about whether I should use the singular or plural pronoun.

  • 1
    Plait it. Tie it. Comb it. It is an uncountable noun. – Mamta D Nov 3 '15 at 11:03
  • Do see this question, seems to be similar to one on ELU – Mamta D Nov 3 '15 at 11:14
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    You used "my hair is" at the start of the sentence - that's a clue as to which pronoun you should use. – ColleenV Nov 3 '15 at 18:47
8

Hair is both countable and uncountable Noun, but it is usually singular when it refers to all the hairs on one's head.

Example:

George has brown hair.

But if it refers to more than one hair, a few hairs, then it takes the plural form and needs a plural verb.

Example:

George has brown hair, but I found a hair on the sofa and suspect he's getting some gray hairs.

When you are talking about specific strands of hair, use the plural form.


Simply put:

Hair can be singular (one hair)

Example:

I found a strand of hair on your sofa. or I found a hair on your sofa

Non-countable singular (when it refers to all the hairs on one's head)

Example:

Shawn has black hair.

Or plural (three hairs, some hairs)

Example:

I Found not one, but three hairs on your sofa.


As Maulik.V said,"To make 'hair' singular, you need to quantify it. So, 'I found a strand of hair on the sofa.'"

  • A strand of hair = One single hair
  • Strands of hair = two or more, it does not specify

Note that we do not say "Strands of Hairs."


Thanks Maulik.V and Snailboat.

  • 3
    To make 'hair' singular, you need to quantify it. So, "I found a strand of hair on the sofa' – Maulik V Nov 4 '15 at 4:23
  • 3
    @Maulik That's a good way to talk about a single hair, but people do also sometimes use hair as a count noun. Examples: "Waiter, there's a hair in my soup!" "I found a few gray hairs today." Usernew, you're correct, it's "strands of hair", not "strands of hairs". – snailcar Nov 4 '15 at 9:57
  • -1 This answer is confusing and seems contradictory. – user20792 Nov 5 '15 at 2:19
  • 1
    @User1 Contradictory in what way? – Usernew Nov 5 '15 at 7:54
6

You would use "it". "Hair" when used to mean hair as a material rather than to refer to an individual hair is uncountable and takes singular conjugations as well as pronouns. It is not like words like "family" where, though it is singular and takes singular conjugations, we might use plural pronouns in the same sentence because these are not uncountable, but rather collective nouns.

For example, we might say:

I love my family, but I wish they would give me more privacy.

My hair is really long; I think I need to have it cut soon.

Note that collective nouns can use singular pronouns, too, though, when thought of as a single entity.

I love my family, but it's getting too big to keep track of.

4

When we talk about hair on the scalp, we use 'singular'. And, that's why you have written 'My hair is...'

Thus, we'd surely continue the singular further.

My hair is rather short, but I usually plait it

Check this entry on OALD that gives us some idea about it.

Her hair was tied back in a long thick plait.

  • 2
    We use singular for facial and bodily hair too. Eg, hair on the arms. Not restricted to scalp. – Mamta D Nov 3 '15 at 11:04
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    @MamtaD but I want to be very sure. I won't be surprised if I see something written like - *straggling hairs on the body of the adult – Maulik V Nov 3 '15 at 11:09
  • 3
    If we are quoting books then we might quote this too where it says hairs on the head. Btw the question looks to be similar to this one – Mamta D Nov 3 '15 at 11:14
  • 1
    Not just that..there are many Mamta. Personally I believe that when it comes to 'body', collectively, it could be 'hairs'. @MamtaD However, as I said, I'm not sure and that's why, I put 'scalp' there so that the OP is not misguided. – Maulik V Nov 3 '15 at 11:17
  • 2
    The top rated answer has not restricted it to scalp. Let's not drag this further. Your answer IS good, all I said was it needn't be narrowed down to only scalp. – Mamta D Nov 3 '15 at 11:39

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