Nouns that exist only in the singular or plural form

April 23, 2012pdf

In English, there are several nouns that exist only in the plural form. Except for a few, they all end in –s.

Examples are:

  • Amends (to make ‘amends’ for causing some loss)
  • Annals (pages of books of history)
  • Archives
  • Arms (weapons)
  • Arrears
  • Ashes (of a dead cremated body)
  • Auspices (patronage)
  • Bowels
  • Brains (intellect)
  • Contents
  • Customs (duty)
  • Earnings
  • Entrails
  • Fireworks
  • Funds (money)
  • Goods
  • Guts (bowels, courage)
  • Letters (in the expression ‘a man of letters’)
  • Looks (e.g. She has got attractive looks)
  • Manners (in the expression ‘good manners’)
  • Odds (in the expression ‘heavy odds’)
  • Outskirts
  • Pains (e.g. to take pains)
  • Premises (building)
  • Riches (wealth)
  • Stairs (e.g. a flight of stairs)
  • Surroundings (environment)
  • Thanks
  • Troops
  • Tropics
  • Valuables
  • Wages
  • Proceeds
  • Tidings
  • Nuptials
  • Alms
  • Drawers

The following are unmarked plurals which do not end in –s. Examples are: cattle and plural.

Some words ending in –s do not change in the plural. Examples are:

  • Barracks
  • Crossroads
  • Headquarters
  • Means
  • Series
  • Species
  • Works (= factory)
  • Swiss

Special cases

Some singular uncountable nouns end in –s. They have no plural forms. Examples are: news, billiards, draughts, measles etc.

  • Measles is highly contagious.

Most words ending in –ics are also usually singular uncountables and have no plurals. Examples are: mathematics, physics, athletics, politics.

  • Politics is a dirty game.
  • Mathematics isn’t the easiest of all subjects.

Other nouns which do not change in the plural are craft, sheep, fish and deer.

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