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Sep 16, 2017

Some English words that do not accept plural markers

Plural markers are affixes or letters added to singular nouns to make them plural. Once a plural marker is added to a singular noun, that noun becomes countable. The plural markers of English are: 's', 'es', 'ves' and 'ies' as in 'boy - boys', 'church - churches', 'thief - thieves' and 'lady - ladies'. Although most English nouns form their plurals with these letters, there are still a handful of English nouns that do not subscribe to this school of thought. They form their plurals with letters other than the ones mentioned above. For example, we have 'men' and 'oxen' as the plural forms of 'man' and 'ox' respectively.

Some English words that do not accept plural markers

However, there are other nouns that do not accept any of the aforementioned plural markers. These nouns cannot be pluralized, but most English users tend to pluralize them due to ignorance. Nouns that constitute this category are proper, uncountable and collective nouns.


Some of these nouns are:

1. Ammunition
'Ammunition' does not take a plural -s, but most English learners always say 'ammunitions'.
Example:
The troop was supplied with weapons and ammunition.

2. Blame
When 'blame' is used as a noun in a sentence, it is uncountable, that is, it cannot be pluralized. For example, 'She received blame from her parents because of her reckless attitude' and not 'She received blames...'

However, when used as a verb in a sentence, its singular verb carries -s if the subject of the sentence is a singular subject. For example, 'She blames her parents for her misfortune'.

3. Cutlery
'Cutlery' comprises spoons, knives, forks etc., so you don't say 'cutleries' but 'cutlery'. For example, 'Enough cutlery was not provided by the cook.'

4. Staff/Personnel
When you use either of these words to mean a group of people who work for a particular organisation or company, it becomes a collective noun. So, you don’t add –s to it.

Unfortunately, you often hear people say 'staffs' or 'personnels'. Some will even say, 'I am a staff of this organisation'. How can only you be a staff? The correct ways to use these words are given in the example below.
Examples
  • The entire staff has done a great job this year.
  • The company needs more personnel.
  • I am a member of staff of this organisation.
5. Furniture
You are expected to say 'furniture' at all times, and not 'furnitures'.  For example, 'A lot of furniture...'

6. Information
This word does not take -s, but some will still say 'some informations'.
Example
I am patiently waiting for the latest information.

7. Luggage
Say: His mom checked all his luggage before leaving.

Don't say: His mom checked all his luggages before leaving.

8. Beard
Say: Tammy shaved off his beard.

Don't say: Tammy shaved off his beards.

A person has beard. "Beards" implies different people, each with beard. For example, 'Tammy and Reuben were told to shave off their beards'.

9. Equipment
This word is an uncountable noun, so it does not need a plural marker. Therefore, you should stop saying 'equipments'.

10. Elite
I often hear people say 'educated elites' or ‘he is an educated elite’. An 'elite' is not an individual person. It means 'a group of persons', so adding -s to it is unacceptable.
Example
Tammy is among the elite of his country.

11. Chalk
You don't say 'chalks' except there are different types or colours of chalk. Otherwise, say 'Get me a piece or packet of chalk' or 'There is a lot of chalk in my school bag'.

12. Advice
When you use 'advice' as a noun to mean 'counsel', it has no plural form. For example, 'The advice my dad gave to me is second to none'.

13. Underwear
This word is an uncountable noun, and therefore, it does not require any plural marker. It means clothes worn next to the skin, e.g. underpants, boxers, shorts etc.
Example:
Underwear is the most boring thing that one could ever receive as a birthday gift.

14. Slang
Always say 'slang' and not 'slangs' irrespective of the number of slangy expressions.

15. Vocabulary
'Vocabulary' is a collection or list of words and their meanings. Therefore, you don't say 'the vocabularies of the English language' but 'the vocabulary of the English language'.

However, you can use 'vocabularies' when referring to two or more languages. For examples, 'There is a similarity among the vocabularies of the Izon languages'.

16. Damage
When 'damage' means destruction, it is an uncountable noun hence does not require –s. For example, 'The recent flood in Benue state caused a lot of damage or much damage to houses'.

However, you use 'damages' when it is an amount of money paid or claimed in compensation for destruction, and this can only be used in legal context. For example, 'The chief Judge awarded Tammy a large sum of money for damages'.

17. Jewelry/Jewellery
If you are among those who say 'jewelries' or 'jewelleries', please stop it. You can either say 'My younger sister took away some of my mom's precious jewelry/jewellery' or 'My younger sister took away some of my mom's precious jewels'.

18. Machinery
It is very wrong to say 'machineries'. Always say 'machinery' or 'machines'.

19. Mail
'Mail' chiefly means a collection (usually a bag) of letters, so you should avoid adding –s to it irrespective of the number.
Examples
  • Don't forget to pick up the mail on your way.
  • Some of the mail had been opened.
20. Cattle
This is a collective noun and can never take -s.
Example
During the drought, we lost a lot of cattle.

Having said that, it is important you save or bookmark this page because we will keep updating it as we get new words. Do you have other English words that do not require plural markers? Kindly use the comment box to state them, and we will add them to the list after confirmation.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous05 June, 2018

    Good work. I have really learnt a lot.

    ReplyDelete