Unit 5. Singular, plural, and collective nouns
(существительные, употребляемые только в единственном и множественном числах и собирательные существительные)
- Singular nouns are used only in the singular, always with a determiner.
- Plural nouns are used only in the plural, some with a determiner.
- Collective nouns can be used with singular or plural verbs.
1. Some nouns are used in particular meanings in the singular with a determiner, like count nouns, but are not used in the plural with that meaning. They are often called "singular nouns".
Some of these nouns are normally used with "the" because they refer to things that are unique.
The sun was shining.
I am scared of the dark.
Other singular nouns are normally used with "a" because they refer to things that we usually talk about one at a time.
I went upstairs and had a wash.
Why don't we go outside for a smoke?
2. Some nouns are used in particular meanings in the plural with or without determiners, like count nouns, but are not used in the singular with that meaning. They are often called "plural nouns".
His clothes looked terribly dirty.
Troops are being sent in today.
Some of these nouns are always used with determiners.
I went to the pictures with Tina.
You hurt his feelings.
Some are usually used without determiners.
Refreshments are available inside.
They have agreed to pay for travel and expenses.
WARNING: "Police" is a plural noun, but does not end in "-s".
The police were informed immediately.
3. A small group of plural nouns refer to single items that have two linked parts. They refer to things that people wear or tools that people use.
She was wearing brown trousers.
These scissors are sharp.
You can use "a pair of" to make it clear you are talking about one item, or a number with "pairs of" when you are talking about several items.
I was sent out to buy a pair of scissors.
Liza had given me three pairs of jeans.
Note that you also use "a pair of" with words such as "gloves", "shoes", and "socks" that you often talk about in twos.
4. With some nouns that refer to a group of people or things, the same form can be used with singular or plural verbs, because you can think of the group as a unit or as individuals. Similarly, you can use singular or plural pronouns to refer back to them. These nouns are often called "collective nouns".
Our little group is complete again.
The largest group are the boys.
Our family isn't poor any more.
My family are perfectly normal.
The names of many organizations and sports teams are also collective nouns, but are normally used with plural verbs in spoken English.
The BBC is showing the programme on Saturday.
The BBC are planning to use the new satellite.
Liverpool is leading 1-0.
Liverpool are attacking again.