Plural Identical in Form With the Singular
The Number of Nouns. Formation of Number. Expression of number in Different Classes of Nouns. Nouns Used Only in the Plural. Nouns Used in the Plural in the Special Sense. Double Plural Forms.
III.1. GRAMMAR POINT
Number is the grammatical category of the noun which shows whether we speak of one thing or of more than one. Accordingly, there are two numbers: the singular and the plural.
The singular is that form of the noun which indicates one thing: a book, a boy.
The plural is that form which serves to denote more than one thing: books, boys.
Formation of Number
1. In modern English the form of the singular of nouns is a bare stem with a zero-inflexion (нулевая флексия): book, boy, girl.
The plural is formed by the inflexion [z] and its phonetic variants [s-iz], in spelling -s, -es: boy – boys, book – books, box – boxes.
Compare the Russian noun стол (столы), which also has a zero-inflexion in the nominative case of the singular, with the noun река (реки), which has a positive inflexion in the nominative case of the singular as well as of the plural.
The plural inflexion is pronounced [z] after voiced consonants and vowels: cabs, raids, tables, pens, factories, tractors; [s] after voiceless consonants: books, pilots, pipes; [iz] after sibilants: classes, bushes, branches, boxes.
Note. – Nouns ending in a mute -e preceded by a sibilant, in spelling – se, -ce,-ze, -(d)ge, add the inflexion [iz] -s: horse – horses; price – prices; size – sizes; bridge – bridges – village – villages.
2. With some nouns the final voiceless consonant is changed into a corresponding voiced consonant before the inflexion [z], in spelling -es, is added. To this group belong:
a) Nouns ending in [f], in spelling -fe or -f. The [f] is changed into [v] (consonant interchange), and the inflexion [z], in spelling -es is added: knife – knives; shelf – shelves; wife – wives.
Note. – Some nouns ending in [f], in spelling -f or -ff. simply add [s] -s in the plural: roof – roofs; chief – chiefs; handkerchief – handkerchiefs; cliff – cliffs; cuff – cuffs; muff – muffs.
The following nouns have double forms: hoof – hoofs, hooves; wharf – wharfs, wharves; scarf – scarfs, scarves.
b) Some nouns ending in [q], in spelling -th, change the [q] into [d]: mouth [mouq] – mouths [maudz]; path [pa:q] – paths [pa:dz]; bath [ba:q] – baths [ba:dz].
In many words, however, there is no change of [q] into [d] (deaths [deqs]); in some nouns there is fluctuation between the two sounds – [q] and [d](truths [truqs] - [trudz], youths [ju:qs] – [ju: dz]).
c) The noun house [haus] in the plural form is pronounced houses ['hauziz].
Peculiarities of Spelling.
Notice the following:
a) When a noun ends in -y preceded by a consonant, -y is replaced by -i and the ending -es [z] is added: city – cities; country – countries; penny – pennies (when a sum of money and not separate coins is meant the plural form pence is used: It costs five pence. But: Five pennieswere lying on the table).
b) When a noun ends in -o with a preceding consonant, -es [z] is added: hero – heroes; Negro – Negroes; potato – potatoes, cargo-cargoes.
But:pianos, photos, cukoos, videos, zoos.
с) The plural of proper names and other parts of speech (figures, letters, etc.) when substantivized are sometimes written in the ordinary way, sometimes with an 's added:
The two Mary's or the two Marys (y remains unchanged). Mind your P's and Q's. Cross your t's and dot your i's. Don't use so many buts.
"... Mr. Copperfield objected to my threes and fives being too much alike each other, or to my putting curly tails to my sevens and nines," resumed my mother. (Dickens.)
3. Some nouns are survivals of Old English plural forms; they form the plural:
a) By changing the root-vowel (vowel interchange): man – men; woman – women; foot – feet; tooth – teeth; goose – geese; mouse – mice; louse-lice;
b) By adding the inflexion -en: ox – oxen;
c) By changing the root-vowel (vowel interchange) and adding the inflexion -en: child – children; brother – brethren.*
Plural Identical in Form With the Singular.
Some nouns have one form for both singular and plural (either always or in certain combinations).
Those nouns are partly survivals of the Old English and Latin uninflected plurals, partly forms which came to be used by the analogy of the old unchanged plurals.
The following nouns have one form for both singular and plural:
a) Names of some animals: sheep, deer, swine.
A sheep was grazing in the meadow. Some sheep were grazing in the meadow. The deer has branching horns which it sheds every year. The deer have left their usual pastures.
b) The noun fish and some sorts of fish, such as trout, cod, pike, salmon:
The fishermen returned with a wonderful catch of silvery, quivering fish piled high in the boat. The fish were small and bony. (Dickens.) He caught fish (several fish). The White Sea abounds with cod(треска).
To denote kinds of fish the form fishes is used:
There were many fishes in the net. She has bought a large book on our freshwater fishes. These pools swarm with a great variety of fishes.
с) Names indicating number such as dozen, pair, couple, score (двадцать), when they are preceded by a numeral: two pair of gloves; five score of eggs; three dozen of shirts.
But: They went in pairs. I have told you this dozens of times. The three books in his little room at the Carters increased to a dozen and then two dozen. (Fast.)
Note. – After many and few both forms are found: so many pair of wings, a great many pairs of gloves; a few score(s) of heads.
d) We have survivals of the old uninflected plural in kind, sort, and manner. The usual construction is now to keep kind, sort, and manner unchanged, but to use the plural these (those) if the word following of is plural (these kind of tools). But this construction is by many considered grammatically incorrect and therefore in careful literary speech books of that kind is preferred to the colloquial those kind of books:
These kind of pens. Such kind of duties. Those sort of speeches.
e) The noun foot(measure of length) is feetin the plural. The plural foot is used when followed by a number indicating inches:
He was five feet high. The figure rose to its full length of five foot ten.
f) The noun pound (indicating money) has usually the s-plural except when followed by a numeral indicating shillings: too pounds, but: two pound ten (£2.10.0).
The same rule applies to: quid-quid, yen-yen.
g) The nouns speciesand series borrowed from the Latin have also one form for both singular and plural:
A series of very interesting experiments has been made in our laboratory. Two admirable series of the masters of Russian literature have been published recently. What a pretty speciesof roses! Many beautiful speciesof roses are cultivated in our garden.
h) Names of nationalities: Swiss-Swiss, Chinese-Chinese, Japanese-Japanese.
i) The following words with –craft have the same form in singular and plural: craft, aircraft, hovercraft, spacecraft.
6. Foreign Plurals.
Some nouns keep the plural form of the language (Latin or Greek) from which they have been borrowed:
memorandum [am] – memoranda [∂]; datum [am] – data [a]; phenomenon [an] – phenomena [a]; crisis [iz] – crises [i:z]; . nucleus [i∂s] – nuclei [-iai]; terminus [∂s] – termini [-ai]; stimulus [∂s] – stimuli [ai]; formula [a] – formulae [i:]; index – indices [i:z].
The same rule applies to:
Words that are much used often have an English plural: memorandums, formulas, indexes, terminuses.
In all countries the broadest strata of the population have been mobilized in support of this great cause – the preservation of peace.
Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall, || And narcissi, the fairest among them all ... (Shelley.)