Can Two Plural Words Be Used Together
ESL | Grammar | Parenting | Teaching | Teaching English

Can Two Plural Words Be Used Together?

English is a complicated language to learn. Its rules and exceptions can make anyone’s head spin. Plurals are no exception. First, there are multiple ways to change words into plurals, with exceptions to every rule. Other rules govern how you use plurals. One question English students ask is if you can use two plurals together.

Two plurals can be used together in a sentence. It is important that there is agreement in the verbs and sentence structure when using plurals. Plural nouns may be used together for list sentences, when there are multiple subjects, plural pronouns, and possessive nouns.

Plurals are an essential part of English, and it is important to get their usage correct. Most English home language speakers use two plural nouns together without giving a thought to the rules governing usage. This makes it very confusing for people trying to learn English. It is useful to understand some basic rules governing plural usage. 

Using Multiple Plurals In A List Sentence    

One of the most common occasions for plurals to occur side by side in a sentence are when the sentence details a list. For example: ‘You need carrots, tomatoes, and apples as you have run out.”  Another example is, “On my farm, I have dogs, horses, chickens, and cats. “

Plurals In A Sentence When There are Multiple Subjects.

A sentence can have multiple subjects, which may be plural. A subject is the person, animal, thing, place, or even idea that is carrying out the action or verb or is the focus of the adjective. The subject may be called the naming word or phrase in the sentence. 

For example:

  1. John ran a race. John is the subject.
  2. The cat caught the mouse. The cat is the subject.
  3. Egypt is very hot. Egypt is the subject.

In multiple different subjects, examples would be:

  1. John and Jack ran the race.
  2. The cat and dog caught a mouse.
  3. Egypt and Somalia are very hot.

The subjects may exist in a plural form. Look at the following examples:

  1. The cats and dogs were very hungry.
  2. The thoughts and ideas flowed during the brainstorming session.
  3. The bats and balls were all stolen.

Irregular plurals Used Together In A Sentence

Plurals may not always be easily identified by an added /s/ or /es/. Sometimes irregular plurals may be used together or with a regular plural.

  1. The children chased all the sheep.
  2. The dwarves wore socks on their feet. In this sentence, there are three plurals; two irregular and one regular.
  3. The wolves ate the mice.

Pronouns Can Also Be Plurals

Pronouns function like other nouns and occur in plural forms.

  • He or she becomes they
  • his or hers become theirs
  • him or her becomes them.
  • I changes to we
  • Me becomes us
  • You remains you as a plural form.

These plural pronouns can be used in conjunction with other plural nouns.

  1. They ran away from the robbers.
  2. The children threw rocks at them.
  3. The clothes belonged to them.
  4. We gave the sweets to all of you.
  5. The workers reported the problems to us.

Plurals And Possessives In The Same Sentence

There may be instances when the subject is plural, and we need to indicate possession. This will be indicated by two plurals written next to each other.

  1. The brothers’ bedrooms were next to each other.
  2. The chickens’ eggs were all broken.
  3. Many people’s lives were lost. In this sentence, people is an irregular plural noun. The /s/ is added to indicate possession and is unrelated to the plural form.

Attributive Nouns And Plural Forms

Attributive nouns are sometimes known as noun modifiers, qualifying nouns, noun adjuncts, or apposite nouns. Two nouns are used together with one noun modifying or giving extra information about the other noun.

The modifying noun functions like an adjective and can be omitted without affecting the grammar of the sentence. Adjuncts can also be noun phrases. As this article is discussing plurals, we will only consider single noun adjuncts.

Some examples:

  • Treehouse
  • Bicycle store
  • Duvet cover
  • Toothbrush

To make these structures into plurals, the adjunct noun is used in the singular, and the modified noun is used in the plural.

In our examples, we would have the following:

  • Tree houses – saying trees houses would be incorrect
  • Bicycle stores
  • Duvet covers
  • Toothbrushes

There are some exceptions to noun adjunct plural rules, but these are rare. An example is sports goods. We can say then that in the case of attributive nouns, it is usually incorrect to use both as plurals. 

Uncountable Nouns Are Never Plurals

Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted or are difficult to count. Some examples of uncountable nouns are water, hair, knowledge, traffic, rice, sugar, butter, and money.

If we were using two nouns where one was an uncountable noun, we must keep to the rule that uncountable nouns are not written as plurals.

For example:

  1. He brushes his hair and his teeth. 
  2. She drank milkshakes and water.
  3. They bought rice, cereals, and sugar.

Only Nouns Are Changed To Plurals

It is vital to note that only nouns are changed to plurals. Sometimes people can become confused about what words are in plural form. For example: ‘She bakes cakes.’ Some people may think that the verb ‘bakes’ is plural because of the additional /s/. This is not a plural. The /s/ on ‘bakes’ is a tense marker. You can check if it is a plural noun by asking two questions.

  1. Is this a doing word – verb?
  2. Can the word take an /ed/ or /ing/ ending (suffix) and still make sense?

If the answer to the questions is yes, then the word is not a noun and not plural. The word is a verb, modified to indicate the tense.

Conclusion

Plural nouns may be written together and occur quite commonly in English. It is helpful to understand the plural rules to allow you to use plural nouns together correctly. There are some exceptions to plural use that do not follow the rules. Listening to spoken English and reading English text will help develop a ‘feel for the language,’ which can assist with plural nouns that do not comply with the rules.

References

Similar Posts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.