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Learn English Grammar

(Courtsey: Grammar by Shri D.N. Basu)

Everybody should learn English grammar as English grammar teaches us to speak and write the English language correctly.

Number of Noun (continued)

Some nouns have two plurals with separate meanings –

SingularPlural-1MeaningPlural-2Meaning
beefbeefskinds of beef-meatbeevesoxen
brotherbrotherssons of the same parentsbrethrenpersons of the same community
clothclothskinds or pieces of clothclothesgarments
diediesstamps for coiningdicesmall cubes for gaming
fishfishtaken collectivelyfishestaken separately
geniusgeniusesmen of great abilitygeniispirits
indexindexestables of contents of booksindicessigns in Algebra
peaoeasseparate seedspeasethe species, i.e. when quantity is meant
sailsailships; as, ‘a fleet of ten sail’sailscanvases; as, ‘that ship has five sails’
shotshotthe number of ballsshotsthe number of times fired
staffstaffsdepartments in armystaveswalking sticks

Plural with Numerals – Nouns expressing measure, number and weight, when preceded by numerals, are used in the plural without -s; as, ‘a ten-rupee note’; ‘a four-year child’; ‘a three-foot rule’; ‘an eight-day clock’; ‘a four-wheel carriage’.

Some nouns have the singular form in both numbers; as, ‘three pice’; ‘these sheep’; ‘several deer’.

The names of certain sciences ending in “-ics” are plural in form but singular in use; as, Acoustics, Mathematics, Hydrostatics, Mechanics, Ethics, Conics, etc.; ‘Optics is the science of visions’.

Some nouns have no singular –

aborigines, annals, bellows, billiards, bowes, dregs, embers, entrails, environs, intestines, measles, odds, pantaloons, pincers, proceeds, scales, scissors, shears, snuffers, thanks, tongs, trousers, wages.

“Corps”, “series”, “species”, “means”, “amends” are used in both numbers.

Mountain chains and groups or islands are used in the plural; as, ‘the Himalayas are higher than the Apls or the Andes’; ‘the Philippines are to the south of China.’

Some Collective Nouns have no separate plural form; as, aristocracy, artillery, cattle, foot, furniture, horse, issue, mankind, nobility, offspring, peasantry, people, perfumery, poultry, scenery, tenantry.

Gender of Noun

Gender is that form of the noun which shows whether what is spoken of is male, female or neither.

The Masculine Gender is applied to the names of male animals; as, man, dog.

The Feminine Gender is applied to the names of female animals; as woman, bitch.

The Neuter Gender is applied to the names of lifeless objects; as, watch, pen. Inferior animals are classed under the Neuter Gender.

Note – Collective Nouns are of Neuter Gender, though they denote collections of male and female sexes; as, ‘the club held its third meeting yesterday’.

Material and Abstract Nouns are also of Neuter Gender as they denote neither male nor female.

The Common Gender is applied to words that signify both, male and female; as –

child – son or daughter; deer – tart or roe; foal – colt or filly; fowl – cocks or hen; horse – stallion or mare; parent – father or mother; pig – young boar or sow; sheep – ram or ewe; sovereign – king or queen; spouse – husband or wife.

Other words of this class are – baby, bird, citizen, cousin, dove, enemy, friend, infant, monarch, mouse, orphan, person, pupil, relation, servant etc.

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