Nouns that exist only in the plural

  • #1
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I wrote the word "trousers" in another thread, and realized that there does not exist a singular as a noun. (There does as an adjective - "trouser pockets") After some thinking, it appears that these nouns that exist only in the plural fall into three categories:
  • Items of clothing: trousers, pants, jeans, leggings, bloomers, and of course clothes.
  • Tools: pliers, scissors, forceps, glasses and binoculars.
  • Wealth: wages, riches, earnings, belongings.
I can think of a very few others that do not fall into these categories. Anyone want to give it a whirl?
 
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  • #2
phinds
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There are also words that are BOTH the singular and the plural, such as species (when applied to biological things --- "specie" is a different word and means coins), advice, series, etc.
 
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  • #3
PeroK
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Physics!
 
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  • #5
BillTre
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Many of these have significant features that are doubled.
A monocular (a single tube binocular like thing) is an interesting in that it is like a half a bincoular or a little telescope.
Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 3.41.27 PM.png

However, a tripod is singular but has three parts??? Then there's the monopod is a singular third of a tripod.
Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 3.43.26 PM.png
 
  • #6
phinds
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All the examples in post 2 and 3 are still treated as singular nouns:
"A species/series is ..."
"Physics/Advice is ..."
Not always. It is grammatically correct to say "these species are" and in fact when referring to multiple species, it would be nonsensical to say "these species is". I believe the same to be true of series, else how would you talk about a group of more than one series? "These series is"? I don't think so.
 
  • #7
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But wage is a thing?
Only in the abstract ("a living wage"). In the concrete, it's plural. ("Mary's wages are well above those of her peers")

Interestingly, Romans 6.23 has "the wages of sin is death", so the usage in 1611 was different than today's.
 
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  • #8
phinds
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Interestingly, Romans 6.23 has "the wages of sin is death", so the usage in 1611 was different than today's.
Interesting. Good catch.
 
  • #9
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Physics seems to me a singular word that ends in s: mess, cutlass, albatross. Since there is only one Physics, there is no plural form.

Species seems to me a word that does not change its form when pluralized: deer, moose, sheep, aircraft.
 
  • #10
phinds
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Species seems to me a word that does not change its form when pluralized: deer, moose, sheep, aircraft.
Exactly. This species is rare, as but none of those other species are. That deer is a pain in the butt in my garden, as are all those other deer.
 
  • #11
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That deer is a pain in the butt in my garden, as are all those other deer.
Better deer than moose in the garden.
 
  • #12
phinds
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Better deer than moose in the garden.
Yeah, one moose would be more than enough. Several meece would be WAY too many.
 
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  • #13
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Not always. It is grammatically correct to say "these species are" and in fact when referring to multiple species, it would be nonsensical to say "these species is". I believe the same to be true of series, else how would you talk about a group of more than one series? "These series is"? I don't think so.
These words have a plural that's identical to the singular, but the singular exists.
Only in the abstract ("a living wage"). In the concrete, it's plural. ("Mary's,wages are well above those of her peers")
Wikipedia uses it in the singular as regular noun.
A wage is monetary compensation (or remuneration, personnel expenses, labor) paid by an employer to an employee in exchange for work done.
 
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  • #14
vela
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Physics seems to me a singular word that ends in s: mess, cutlass, albatross. Since there is only one Physics, there is no plural form.
From the dictionary on my computer:
phys·ics| ˈfiziks |

plural noun [treated as singular]

the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics, distinguished from that of chemistry and biology, includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.

• the physical properties and phenomena of something: the physics of plasmas.

ORIGIN
late 15th century (denoting natural science in general, especially the Aristotelian system): plural of obsolete physic ‘physical (thing’), suggested by Latin physica, Greek phusika ‘natural things’ from phusis ‘nature’.
 
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  • #15
phinds
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These words have a plural that's identical to the singular, but the singular exists.
Exactly the point I made in posts #2 and #10
 
  • #16
Yeah, one moose would be more than enough. Several meece would be WAY too many.
Agreed.
 
  • #17
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plural noun [treated as singular]
I don't know what that means. Certainly one says "physics is" and not "physics are".
 
  • #18
jim mcnamara
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Then on the edge of this: collective nouns are plural in a limited sense in that they represent more than a single "thing", but they can be plural as well. So I'm not sure where they fit.

Traffic is bad. "Traffics are bad" is not used.
An army marched over the hill.
Two armies fought twice on Pork Chop Hill.

I believe that the traditional North American languages that I knew anything about did not have collective nouns. Per Irvy Goossen who wrote several books teaching Navajo to English speakers.

With the internet out there for years after I left, who knows.
 
  • #19
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With the internet out there for years after I left
You left the internet? Wow! :wink:

"Traffic" is a single thing. Like "homework", "evidence" or maybe "jewelry". It's the opposite of "tweezers" which has no singular.
 
  • #20
BillTre
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A pair of tweezers (or forceps, or scissors) seems to imply that there are two things considered as one.
The pair part gets dropped, perhaps as a linguistic word shortening thing.
Kind of like a pair of chopsticks are required for them to be useful. Give me the chopsticks, but they are separable so we can still use the singular: I dropped the chopstick.

There are plenty of nouns for groups of multiple things, but that can be plural when there are more than one group.
My favorite: a murder of crows. But there are also herds, schools, fleets, etc.
 
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  • #21
PeroK
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"Traffic" is a single thing. Like "homework", "evidence" or maybe "jewelry".
You can actually have an uncountable form of many nouns. For example, if a cat is hit by a car, you could say there was cat all over the road.

And there are things like hair, which has an uncountable meaning, in addition to the countable form.
 
  • #22
Ibix
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Only in the abstract ("a living wage"). In the concrete, it's plural. ("Mary's wages are well above those of her peers")
Not sure I agree. "I am paid a wage" is acceptable English, although I agree "my wages" is the more common.
 
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  • #23
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apparatus, nexus, plexus and probably a lot more derived from Latin which I can't remember off hand.
 
  • #24
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Those are just singulars ending in s.
 
  • #25
Klystron
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Wealth: wages, riches, earnings, belongings.
Before addressing your question; wage, earning and belonging are common singular terms. Rich is a common adjective.

Collective nouns such as deer, sheep contain their singular form.

[The rest of the comments just loaded, so I will read them before replying further.]
 

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