Nouns and their number

One of the four properties of nouns is their number, the others being gender, person, and case. Every noun will fall under either of the two larger classes called countable and uncountable nouns. While countable nouns can be classified further as singular and plural, uncountable nouns cannot be futher classified. In effect, any noun, or a noun phrase, shall fall under one of the three classes, singular, plural, or uncountable.

What makes this topic interesting is the fact that nouns take various forms, which may easily mislead us. Here are some interesting cases:

Plural forms that don’t have an –s ending criteria, radii, phenomena, police, cattle
Singular/uncountable nouns with an -s ending maths, news
Words with an -s ending, but can be singular or plural statistics, dynamics
Uncountable nouns commonly pluralized erroneously information, children, furniture, equipment, software
Usually uncountable but have special meaning as plurals waters, assets, data, damages, finances
Collective nouns committee, jury
Numbers in measurements distance, money, weights, volume, area, etc.

On the other hand, it is easier to deal with phrases and clauses. Gerunds, infinitives, participial phrases, subordinate clauses, and words as words are all considered uncountable.

  • Editing is my passion.
  • To edit documents written by non-native authors is usually challenging.
  • That the two regimes have differing foundations leaves their relationship unclear.
  • Children is a plural noun.

There are some slightly phrases such as a variety of, a range of, a/the percentage of, a/the majority of, etc.

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