I came across the sentence "They have set watch to kill you." but I wonder if the word "watch" need to change to "watches" or "a watch". Isn't noun plural form like "es" always necessary?

Then he pulled him out of the river, and said to him, as he got upon the bank, 'Your brothers have set watch to kill you, if they find you in the kingdom.' So he dressed himself as a poor man, and came secretly to the king's court, and was scarcely within the doors when the horse began to eat, and the bird to sing, and princess left off weeping.
The Golden Bird by Brothers Grimm


More than one person can keep watch, and set watch can be said about more than one person.

There is a sentence in the first paragraph

The king became very angry at this, and ordered the gardener to keep watch all night under the tree

The expression keep watch would still be singular if the king had ordered more than one gardener to keep watch. Two people can also play chess, they don't play chesses. The two brothers can set watch just like the two brothers can play chess.

By the way, in the text quoted in your answer, there should be the definite article the before princess, just like it is before king and like it is before princess elsewhere in the story.


Watch means here a period of time (alert state or a duty period) like in set expressions keep watch or to be on the watch. His brothers are looking for him like soldiers on (the) watch.From Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary(uncountable and countable)

watch noun (LOOKING) › [S or U] the ​activity of watching or giving ​attention to something or someone, ​especially to make ​certain nothing ​bad ​happens: The ​police ​keep a ​close watch on ​gang ​members. The ​soldiers ​slept at ​night, except for one who ​stayed ​awake on watch/to ​keep watch.

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