Talk:Plural

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"Panties" & "bra"[edit]

Why is the word "panties" plural, but the word "bra" is singular? klenk 16:04, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

They're unrelated. Why are "shorts" and "pants" both plural, but "shirt" singular? Ruakh 19:16, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Plural in Slavic languages[edit]

I see throughout all articales about grammatical number a common misconseption about Slavic plural number. There is no such thing as paucal number. There is only singular, plural and (in Slovene and Sorbian), dual number.

The different noun forms that appear after numbers are due to grammatical agreement in case rather than different grammatical number. In Proto-Slavic the words for 1 (*edinъ), 2 (*dъva), 3 (*trie) and 4 (*četyre) were adjectives; there was no syntactic difference between 'white cats' (*běli koti) and 'three cats' (*trii koti). On the other hand, larger numerals were mere nouns; the word they modified had to be placed in genitive case, plural. In other words '*pętь kotъ' meant literally 'a five of cats'. Compare the same pattern in modern English in expressions like 'a pack of wolves', 'a flock of birds', 'a pair of gloves'. The Slavic counterparts of such expressions involve the same form: genitive case plural (cf. Russian 'стая волков', where 'волков' is the genitive plural form of the noun 'волк', wolf).

Numeral, larger than ten in Proto-Slavic were expressions. 'Twelve cats' was expressed as 'two cats and ten' which naturally required dual number. Usage of dual number is recorded in Old Church Slavonic (OdBulgarian) texts after 12, 22, 32, etc. While Slavic languages have changed since Proto-Slavic times, this treatment of numerals and the mandatory agreement with nouns have not change at all.

Andrey Gazibarov, Bulgaria --87.126.91.23 00:16, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I'm not sure that what you said really disagrees with what the article says; the difference is that you take a diachronic view, explaining how things got to the way they are, while the article takes a synchronic view, giving the simplest explanation of the way things currently are. That's my impression, at least; I don't speak any Slavic languages, so might well be missing a major point. Ruakh 01:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I am proposing a merger of plural, nullar, trial (grammatical number), paucal, collective noun and singulative with grammatical number. Here are my reasons:

  • Most of those other entries have very little in them. They could easily become sections, or even paragraphs in 'grammatical number';
  • One exception is the plural entry, which does contain quite a bit, but a lot of what it has could just as well be in a general entry about 'grammatical number';
  • I think that some of what is currently in the plural article might be used to improve the quality of the 'grammatical number' article;

A related page which is probably best left separate is the one on the dual number, which seems too large to merge with 'grammatical number'. FilipeS 14:40, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Plural in Portuguese[edit]

The article says Brazilian Portuguese uses the singular form with zero. Although prescritive grammar does say so, that's not entirely true, as in colloquial language many Brazilians use the singular exclusively with the number one (thus using the plural form with zero). Unless there's a verifiable source saying most Brazilians speak that way (which I find very unlikely), I believe it would be better to remove that commentary from the article.

Transferred from article: → «« Man77 »» 10:26, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry. You're wrong, (ma'am or sir). In Portuguese the singular form is used for zero, and for nouns between zero and below two, as well. Examples: zero grau; um metro e meio; um dólar e três quartos. – by 200.159.216.163 (talk · contribs)

Nullar numbers[edit]

Nowhere have I been able to find traces of a so-called 'nullar number' (in any language), besides some Wikipedia pages and other websites that cite Wikipedia, so I have decided to remove this from the article. Could the writer of this article explain to me what he or she meant by this nullar number? I seriously doubt its existence. Not only because I cannot find any information about it, but also because it seems to be a very redundant feature; one would simply expect 'no rivers' as the opposite of 'all rivers'.

82.93.34.232 18:03, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

In English you would use singular if you expected one car (no car) but plural if you expected several cars (no cars).

217.77.35.80 20:54, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Plural in Portuguese[edit]

From Valbarragan: The article actually says that both Spanish and Portuguese use the plural form with zero. Both languages do not refer exactly to zero, but to the inexistence of the object in question. For example: In Spanish, the plural "No hay galletas" (There are no cookies) for countable nouns; and singular "No hay agua" (There is no water) for non-countable. In Continental Portuguese (Portugal and Africa), it follows the same pattern: "Não há bolachas"/ Não há água". Nevertheless, in Brazilian Portuguese, the singular form is more common in any case: "Não tem biscoito"/"Não tem água."("There is no cookie"/ There is no water). Valbarragan 10:15, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The article isn't very clear, then. What's at stake here is not zero quantity, but the zero numeral itself (0). For example:
  • 2 m is read "two metres" in English, deux mètres in French, dois metros in Portuguese. Plural.
  • 1 m is read "one metre" in English, un mètre in French, um metro in Portuguese. Singular.
  • But 0 m is read "zero metres" in English (plural), zéro mètre in French (singular), zero metros in Portuguese (plural). FilipeS 22:32, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

Uncommon plurals in German[edit]

In German, there a four short ways of showing the fact that you mean both man and woman at the same time in 'one' word, depending on the opportunities the word provides. E.g.:

  (1) 'Mitarbeiter/-in', or 'Mitarbeiter(in)' resp. (male or female employee)
  (2) 'Lehrer/-innen', or 'Lehrer(innen)' resp. (teachers of both sexes)
  (3) 'Patient(inn)en' (male and female inpatients)
  (4) 'Arzt/Ärztin' (gentleman or lady doctor)

The word 'StudentInnen' (a capital i identifies this to be a word meaning 'Studenten' [male students] and 'Studentinnen' [female students]) is regarded non-Standard German and should be avoided. This way of signalizing a plural noun was first used by sociologists and most Germans consider this to be an ugly way of making a short plural form.

I wonder how a British or American speaker would translate these singulars and plurals in short, even if they have to use slang or jargon. I once read about some similar (yet unusual) forms in English, but can't remember them.

Another problem:

Sometimes you are forced to use a short form for plurals (especially in localized computer dialog boxes), such as:

  baby(s)             (instead of '1 baby', '2 babies')

Would a native speaker of English regard this to be an acceptable form? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Scooterx (talkcontribs) 11:37, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

No. The dialogue box could be designed to avoid this inelegant construction,but,as a result of either a poor grasp of English,or a lack of grace in that language,the designer has failed to do so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.240.56.225 (talk) 21:36, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

History of the English plural[edit]

This article states that the English plural is typically formed by adding an "s".Was it not the case, however, that in former times in English, plurals were formed by adding an "n", as is still common practice in German? We have still retained this for certain words, such as "oxen" or "children". ACEOREVIVED (talk) 00:31, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

English plurals – regular endings[edit]

Based on the article as it stands today, the plural of mess is messs, but I think it is messes. Please fix it. — Solo Owl (talk) 21:27, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Examples[edit]

While various languages are given, there are really no real examples besides English on *how* to make a thing plural. Such as "add an "s". or that the plural form may vary... I'd like something along that line as well--more coverage of languages other than English with real examples.--76.169.133.154 (talk) 15:30, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

"Minor Dual Exceptions"[edit]

"In the English language, singular and plural are the only usual grammatical numbers, with minor dual exceptions ("both", "twice", "either", etc.)" I believe that "twice" should be removed from this list of exceptions because it would also offer trial(sp? correct word?) exceptions due to the existence of "thrice" which (at least in the Midwest United States) is uncommon, but used enough for me to think it's not dead (yet), so for the purpose of this sentence I feel it is not quite the best choice. I will go ahead and change it for now, unless anyone disagrees. Hallaman3 (talk) 01:29, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

"Plurality is a linguistic universal"[edit]

If I understand this correctly, it's untrue as some languages don't have plurals (I'm informed that at least Thai and Hungarian don't). If I misunderstand this (and I did follow and skim the Linguistic Universal link), perhaps the statement needs clarifying. 78.144.73.20 (talk) 15:42, 3 July 2014 (UTC)