Talk:Singulative number

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I sense that this page would benefit from the addition of more examples. Unfortunately I am unable to locate another definition.

More examples?[edit]

Would any or all of the following appear to be suitable: pair, dozen, gross, mole, trio, score, pod, few, many, several?


I don't think that is what is meant. Those are number names. This page might (note might) be about words such as 'brethren', which is distinct from singular (brother) and plural (brothers). Not sure though. -- Tarquin 19:52 30 Jun 2003 (UTC)

A collective, as I understand it, is a noun form that treats to a group of conceptually distinguishable items as a single blob, e.g. grass, hair, grain, etc. A singulative is a construction for denoting a single instance of what is usually referred to by a collective form, e.g. blade of grass, a hair, a grain. Can anyone out there with more solid linguistics credentials comfirm this or provide some additional examples? --Savage 18:31, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Japanese plurals[edit]

The statement about Japanese having no plurals is not strictly true. A small number of words can form plurals through reduplication (hitobito, wareware, shimajima, tokidoki, sorezore, etc.). Pbattley 00:32, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I am proposing a merger of plural, nullar, trial (grammatical number), paucal, collective number 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 20:19, 29 April 2006 (UTC)


I just expanded this page. Unfortunately I don't have the time or resources at the moment to really expound on the usage of derivational and lexical collectives, which constitute an important topic. More examples are always good, and it wouldn't hurt to see a better explanation of the mechanisms behind the formation of collective words. If I get a chance, I can write some stuff in about singularitives and collectives in Indo-European languages. I also would like to explain why lexical collectives develop, but most of what I know on that comes from (currently) unpublished reseach, and as such violates WP's policy.

J Riddy 00:39, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the contribution, but the examples you added were of Collective nouns, not of the collective number, which is when the "plural" form of a noun is the unmarked one, rather than the singular. I've moved them to the appropriate page. FilipeS 16:42, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Proposal: move Collective number → Singulative number[edit]


  • "Collective number" has a tendency to be confused with "collective noun".
  • "Collective number" and "singulative number" have to be explained together, anyway.
  • It's what happens to the singulars, in languages with the singulative-collective system, that is interesting.

FilipeS (talk) 17:35, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Done. FilipeS (talk) 21:42, 17 June 2008 (UTC)


I am not seeing what this bit has to do with the concept explained by the rest of the article or the singulative number in general:

However, groups of people can be referred to, either by context or periphrastically (i.e., with additional words or phrases).

An example from Japanese:

  • Tanaka-san "Mr/Ms Tanaka"
  • Tanaka-san-tachi "The Tanakas", "Tanaka & Co.", "Tanaka and friends", etc.

Largo Plazo (talk) 02:34, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Grammatical number, or just a means of word formation?[edit]

Are articles, adjectives, verbs etc. declined/conjugated for singulative (in a way distinct from collective or any other number)? I think the article should provide examples for such behaviour if it exists in some languages, or otherwise state that this does not happen. (I myself don't know which one it is.) By the way, in the latter case, can this really be referred to as grammatical number? (What makes it a grammatical category if this is not reflected in declined/conjugated forms?) (talk) 14:24, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

I don't know either, but I presume such differences exist. Though in languages like Welsh, which is described here as having both singular-plural AND singulative-collective number, I'd be interested to know whether the conjugational (etc.) differences are the same in both cases (i.e. whether the verb forms are the same for plurals and collectives, and for singulars and singulatives). I'll try to find someone to ask. (Asked at the Wales noticeboard.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:36, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Could really do with a little more help by way of example as to what you're after, but consider these Welsh examples :
"Mae John yn mynd." (John is going - "mae" singular)
"Mae o'n mynd." (He's going)
"Mae'r plant yn mynd." (The children are going. with "mae" singular)
BUT "Maen nhw'n mynd." (They are going - plural verb)
Note questions too -
"Ydy John yn mynd? - Ydy" (is John going? Yes he is)
"Ydy'r plant yn mynd? - Ydyn" (are the children going? - singular verb - yes THEY are)
"Ydyn nhw'n mynd? - Ydyn" (are they going? yes THEY ARE)
This pattern happens in all tenses, not just the present tense shown.
Hope that helps a little. Hogyn Lleol (talk) 17:43, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, thanks, that's helpful. So it seems that "collective" nouns take singular verbs, but may be replaced by plural pronouns (which then take plural verbs). Does that apply to all the examples given in the article? For example, plant "children", plentyn "a child"; and coed "forest", coeden "a tree". Would all four of these nouns take verbs like mae and ydy rather than maen and ydyn? --Kotniski (talk) 18:01, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes. "Mae'r plentyn/plant yn sâl" (The child/chidren is/are ill.)
"Ydy'r goeden/coed yn fawr?" (Is/are the tree/trees big?)
Hogyn Lleol (talk) 07:45, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
Right, thanks! (Incidentally, getting off the topic, but I'm just curious - is there any difference in meaning between mae and ydy, or is it just that the first is used for statements and the second for questions? Do any other verbs have special question forms?)--Kotniski (talk) 08:45, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
Sadly it's a lot more complicated than that. "Ydy" can appear in statements - "Mr Jones ydy'r bos" (Mr Jones is the boss), and also in negatives ("nid ydy ..."). Best not go there! This is the verb to be "bod", which in the present tense can be "mae", "ydy" or "sydd". Other verbs (which are not as irregular as "bod") are merely subject to mutations in things like question and negative forms. You're opening a can of worms .....!! Hogyn Lleol (talk) 15:23, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
OK, sounds interesting, thanks for the info (I will learn Welsh one day...)--Kotniski (talk) 16:39, 25 November 2011 (UTC)