In the previous High English quiz we learnt about countable and uncountable nouns. We feel that we know all about countable and uncountable nouns. In our many English lessons of the past we must have come across many words that seem to be singular countable nouns but in reality are not. Similarly, we find words that seem to be plural nouns but when we use them in sentences we use verbs that are used for singular nouns. It is imperative that we learn about such words so as not to make mistakes in our written or spoken English. This is the second of three quizzes on the subject of subject and verb agreement for singular, plural or uncountable nouns, to help clarify matters.
The ‘news’ in our newspaper appears to be plural but when used in a sentence its agreement is with a singular verb, like so:
‘I am dismayed that the news is not favourable.’
Note that we use ‘is’ and not ‘are’ in this sentence. Here are some other words that follow the same pattern:
There are some words that use the plural form of the verb. For instance, we would have read about the ‘earnings’ of a company in the financial section of a newspaper and typically this word uses a plural form, like so:
'My earnings were good last month.'
Note that we use 'were' rather than 'was'. Here are some other words that follow the same pattern:
Each of these three items predominantly comprises of two parts and in order to name one item we use 'a pair' like so:
‘A pair of shorts.’
‘A pair of trousers,'
'A pair of scissors.'
Another facet of countable nouns is the fact that there are some nouns which end with the letter ‘s’ in both the singular and plural forms. For instance, analysis-analyses; crisis-crises and oasis-oases are pairs of words ending with ‘s.’ The two sentences ‘the crisis was overcome’ and ‘the crises were overcome’ are both correct. In the first sentence we are talking about a single crisis and in the second sentence we are talking about multiple crises.
Yet another facet of countable nouns is seen in hyphenated words such as sister-in-law. The plural of sister-in-law is sisters-in-law and not sister-in-laws.
In this second quiz on subject-verb agreement with countable and uncountable nouns we learn how to use some of the nouns that do not follow conventions.