Monday, December 21, 2009

singular plural nouns

In nouns, number means the mode of indicating whether we are
speaking of one thing or of more than one.

Our language has two numbers,--singular and plural. The
singular number denotes that one thing is spoken of; the plural, more
than one.

There are three ways of changing the singular form to the

(1) By adding -en.

(2) By changing the root vowel.

(3) By adding -s (or -es).

The first two methods prevailed, together with the third, in Old
English, but in modern English -s or -es has come to be the
"standard" ending; that is, whenever we adopt a new word, we make its
plural by adding -s or -es.

I. Plurals formed by the Suffix -en.

This inflection remains only in the word oxen, though it was
quite common in Old and Middle English; for instance, eyen (eyes),
treen (trees), shoon (shoes), which last is still used in Lowland
Scotch. Hosen is found in the King James version of the Bible, and
housen is still common in the provincial speech in England.

But other words were inflected afterwards, in imitation of the
old words in -en by making a double plural.

Brethren has passed through three stages. The old plural was
brothru, then brothre or brethre, finally brethren. The
weakening of inflections led to this addition.

Children has passed through the same history, though the
intermediate form childer lasted till the seventeenth century in
literary English, and is still found in dialects; as,--

Kine is another double plural, but has now no singular.

II. Plurals formed by Vowel Change.

40. Examples of this inflection are,--


Some other words--as book, turf, wight, borough--formerly had
the same inflection, but they now add the ending -s.

Akin to this class are some words, originally neuter, that have
the singular and plural alike; such as deer, sheep, swine, etc.

Other words following the same usage are, pair, brace, dozen,
after numerals (if not after numerals, or if preceded by the
prepositions in, by, etc, they add -s): also trout, salmon;
head, sail; cannon; heathen, folk, people.

III. Plurals formed by Adding -s or -es.

Instead of -s, the ending -es is added--

(1) If a word ends in a letter which cannot add -s and be
pronounced. Such are box, cross, ditch, glass, lens, quartz, etc.

If the word ends in a sound which cannot add -s, a new syllable is
made; as, niche--niches, race--races, house--houses, prize--prizes,
chaise--chaises, etc.

-Es is also added to a few words ending in -o, though this sound
combines readily with -s, and does not make an extra syllable:
cargo--cargoes, negro--negroes, hero--heroes, volcano--volcanoes,

Usage differs somewhat in other words of this class, some adding -s,
and some -es.

(2) If a word ends in -y preceded by a consonant (the y being then
changed to i); e.g., fancies, allies, daisies, fairies.

Formerly, however, these words ended in -ie, and the real ending is
therefore -s. Notice these from Chaucer (fourteenth century):--

(3) In the case of some words ending in -f or -fe, which have
the plural in -ves: calf--calves, half--halves,
knife--knives, shelf--shelves, etc.

What is Grammer in English
What is noun
Common nouns
Abstract noun


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