Singular and Plural Nouns

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Welcome to your Singular and Plural Nouns lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• Plural Nouns for Pairs
Singular Nouns that Look Plural
Singular Nouns with Plural Verbs
Public places
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

Plural Nouns for Pairs

Sometimes in English, we use a plural noun for one thing that has two parts:

binoculars glasses jeans pyjamas
scissors pants tights trousers

“My jeans are too tight!”
(not “My jeans is…”)

“My pants have hearts on them.”
(not “My pants has…”)

You can also use “a pair of + plural noun”:

“I have a new pair of glasses.” “I have new glasses.”

“Pass me a pair of scissors, please.”  “Pass me the scissors, please.”

Singular Nouns that Look Plural

Some nouns look like plural nouns, but they are actually singular. Especially those ending in -ics:

athletics economics electronics
gymnastics maths (mathematics) physics

Note that News is singular, not plural.

“Quiet! The news is on.”
(not “The news are on.”)

Some nouns ending in s can be singular or plural:

means: a means of transport several means of transport
series: a television series three television series
species: a species of fish many species of fish

We often think of a sum of money, a period of time, a distance etc. as on thing. So we use a singular verb:

“Fifty-thousand Euros was stolen last night.”
(not “Fifty-thousand Euros were stolen last night.”)

“Twenty kilometers is a long distance to run!”
(not “Twenty kilometers are a long distance to run!”)

Singular Nouns with Plural Verbs

Some singular nouns are often used with a plural verb:

audience committee company family
firm government staff team

These nouns are all groups of people. We can either consider them as many people (they), or as a singular group of people (it). So they can be used with either plural verbs or singular verbs:

“The company want to open a new factory.”
or
“The company wants to open a new factory.”

“The staff have the day off tomorrow.”
or
“The staff has the day off tomorrow.”

In the same way, we can use plural verbs or singular verbs with names of sports teams or companies:

“PSG are playing Liverpool tonight.”
or
“PSG is playing Liverpool tonight.”

“BP have a new oil rig.”
or
“BP has a new oil rig.”

Note that we only use plural verbs with police:

“The police arrest three-hundred people per day.”
(not “The police arrests three-hundred people per day.”)

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