The label number refers to the grammatical category which relates to the number of countable objects in the world. In English, number is important with nouns. An English noun exhibits a two-way distinction of number: a singular form and a plural form.
The singular form denotes one of something. Examples are: tree, cat, flower, girl, boy etc.
The plural form denotes two or more of something. Examples are: trees, cats, flowers, girls, boys etc.
In English, a singular noun usually has no marking while the plural form carries the suffix -s or -es.
- Cat / cats
- Dog / dogs
- Fox / foxes
- Fruit / fruits
A few dozen nouns form their plurals irregularly. Examples are:
- Child / children
- Man / men
- Woman / women
- Foot / feet
- Tooth / teeth
- Mouse / mice
Nouns with only a singular form or only a plural form
Some nouns have only a singular form or only a plural form. Nouns which have only a singular form include the following: furniture, wheat, happiness, scenery, news, information, luggage, bread, advice etc.
Nouns which have only a plural form include the following: police, cattle, oats, tweezers, pants, remains etc.
Nouns with identical singular and plural forms
A few nouns in English have identical singular and plural forms. An example is sheep.
- The sheep is hungry. (Sheep – singular)
- The sheep are hungry. (Sheep – plural)