Dis English Sef: The ‘S’ in Nouns 1
The simple success this column achieved last Sunday was setting the ground for what the entire discussion for this month would be – an exposition on nouns.
Today, we will begin by looking at some singular nouns that will always take the letter ‘s’. The first list will be nouns that are considered as subjects or fields of study and they are: mathematics, physics, economics, politics, thermodynamics, phonetics, linguistics, classics etc. Another group of nouns that will fall in this category are nouns that are considered games or sports. They include: gymnastics, billiards, darts, draughts, dominoes etc.
More examples can be found in names of sicknesses such as measles, tuberculosis, shingles, mumps and rickets. Others can also be found in some proper nouns such as the United States, Wales, the United Nations, Flanders, etc. What is unique about this class of nouns is that they are singular in form and can only be used in the plural form in exceptional cases. So, as singular nouns, they must take singular verbs. The first thing to note is that as nouns, they must always retain their ‘s’ inflections. When one removes the ‘s’ then, they stop being nouns. Let’s take some sentence illustrations.
From the above sentences, it is quite obvious that whenever the emboldened words are used as fields of study, they must be seen as singular nouns and, consequently, they must take the singular verb. In few cases, when they are considered not to be fields of study, they attract the plural verb because they are also considered plural nouns in such contexts. A practical example is seen in the sentence below:
You must have noticed that in the above examples, these same words are now used in the plural form and they have also attracted the plural verbs.
That is the problem with Dis English Sef, it is sometimes unpredictable but you can always consult your dictionary. I advise you use the standard hard copy dictionary. Above all, context matters.
Thanks for reading through. See you next week. Ensure you like. Ensure you share. Ensure you drop your comments.
About the Author
Shola Ojikutu is a stellar English and Literature in English teacher and a prolific writer of poems, reviews, speeches, persuasive and motivational copies. He writes and resides in Lagos.
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