1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email
Definition:

The grammatical contrast between singular and plural forms of nouns, pronouns, determiners, and verbs.

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "number, division"

Examples and Observations:

  • "The singular form of nouns is the unmarked and most common form, and plural nouns are formed from the singular by inflectional change, normally the addition of a suffix.

    "The overwhelming majority of nouns form their plural by adding the ending -(e)s. . . .

    "The normal spelling is -s, but if the word ends in s, z, x, sh, or ch, the spelling is -es: bus--buses, box--boxes, bush--bushes, match--matches.

    "If the singular ends in a consonant letter + -y, the spelling is -ies: copy--copies, fly--flies, lady--ladies, army--armies.

    "If the singular ends in a vowel letter + -y, however, the spelling is -s: boy--boys, day--days, key--keys, essay-essays.

    "If the singular ends in -o, the spelling of the plural is sometimes -os and sometimes -oes: pianos, radios, videos v. heroes, potatoes, volcanoes."
    (Douglas Biber, et al., The Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Pearson, 2002)


  • "For compound nouns written as one word, make the last part of the compound plural (briefcases, mailboxes). For compound nouns written as separate or hyphenated words, make the most important part plural: brothers-in law, lieutenant governors. . . .

    "Determiners are words that identify or quantify a noun, such as this study, all people, his suggestions. . . . Some determiners, such as a, an, this, that, one, and each, can only be used with singular nouns; others, such as these, those, all, both, many, several, and two, can only be used with plural nouns."
    (Andrea Lunsford, The St. Martin's Handbook. Bedford, 2008)
Pronunciation: NUM-ber
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Main Clause - Oxymoron
  6. number - definition and examples of number

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.