Topic 13 – Expression of quantity

Topic 13 – Expression of quantity

1 INTRODUCTION

In English, only two numbers are distinguished, singular, which denotes one, and plural, which denotes more than one. The survivals of a dual number are few: twice, both.

The two numbers are distinguished in nouns, pronouns, verbs. Sometimes in adjectives and in adverbs, only in twice and thrice (rare).

2 PLURAL IN ADJECTIVES

Quantitative: little – few

Less – fewer

Much – many

Both

Numerals

This these that those

3 PLURAL IN PRONOUNS

The irregularity of the pronominal inflexion makes it necessary to enumerate here all the forms:

Singular

Plural

I, me

(thou, thee), you

He him

She her

it

Myself

Yourself

Himself

Herself

Itself

This

That

one

We, us

(ye) you

They, them

They, them

They, them

Ourselves

Yourselves

Themselves

Themselves

Themselves

These

Those

Ones

4 PLURAL IN VERBS

Singular and plural in verbs has nothing to do with the verbal idea. When we say children play, there are not several acts of singing. The absence of s is a meaningless grammatical feature showing the dependence of the verb on its subject.

SPECIAL CASES:

AND: The verb goes in singular when the two elements form one conception:

“man and wife is one flesh”

OR: If there is an idea of addition, the verb goes in plural:

“cinema or music were his occupation”

ARITHMATICAL FORMULAE:

The usage wavers: six and six is / are twelve.

ATTRIBUTE:

There is an hesitation between Is and are when subject and attribute have different number:

Children is / are happiness.

5 PLURAL IN NOUNS

REGULAR PLURAL

Plural is made by adding an –s to the noun.

Pronunciation:

/iz/ after sibilants

/z/ after voiced

/s/ after voiceless

Spelling:

es after sibilants, pros, pianos.

In other cases there is considerable vacillation.

IRREGULAR PLURAL

VOICING: baths, calves, knives, shelves.

MUTATION: lice, mice, men, teeth, feet.

-EN: children, oxen, brethren.

FOREIGN PLURALS

Words from latin and greek:

1ª algae, formulae, verrucae

2ª colossi, antropophagi, magi, cacto

aquarium – aquaria (but museums)

criterium – criteria (but lexicons) (greek)

3ª analysis – es

appendix – appendices

hypothesis – hypotheses

crisis – es

4ª apparatus /us/ – apparatus /jus/

5ª series – series

Species – species

ISOLATED PLURALS IN –A

Genus – genera

Abdomen – abdominal

Phantasma – phantasmata

Thema – themata

WORDS FROM ITALIAN

Gondolier – gondolieri

Diletante – dilettanti

Banditto – banditti

Solo – soli

WORDS FROM FRENCH

Bureau – bureaux

Tableau – tableaux

Portmanteau – portmanteaux

WORDS FROM HEBREw

Cherub – cherubim

Seraph – seraphim

USE OF SINGULAR AND PLURAL IN NOUNS

SINGULARIA TANTUM

Nouns only used in singular. They are nouns that only have one number form, that is, they never take an –s suffix:

Concrete mass nouns: gold, silver, uranium, coke, etc

Abstract mass nouns: courage, music, dirt, depair, haste, etc

Proper nouns

Collective nouns: cattle, clergy, police.

Originally plural nouns used now in the singular. The suffix –s has lost its plural meaning.

News

Diseases as measles, mumps

Subject names in ics: mathematics, physics, politics

Some games: billiards, bowls, darts, dominoes

Some proper nouns. Algiers, Athens, Brussels.

PLURALIA TANTUM

Always in plural, never without –s.

Summation plurals: tools and articles of dress which have always two parts: scissors, tongs, trousers, glasses.

Other words: antipodes, middle ages, earnings, fireworks, funds, goods, savings, etc

ZERO PLURAL

In some nouns, the singular and plural forms are identical:

Note the difference between nouns which are invariable: music (always singular) Cattle (always plural)

and zero or unchanged plural nouns, which take the same form with singular and plural verbs:

This sheep is small. These ship are small.

Names of animals:

With animals that have two plurals, zero plural is more common when denoting hunting quarries:

We caught a lot of fish.

And the regular plural to talk about different individuals, species, etc:

The fishes in these two tanks are dangerous.

Zero plural animals are: crab, antelope, duck, fish, herring, trout, carp, deer, sheep.

Names of nationality in –ese: Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese…

Words indicating number:

Specially used as pre-modifiers:

Dozens of books / two dozen glasses

Many thousand insects, five million euros, several head of cattle

Nouns ending in –s

Alms, barracks, gallows, headqarters, means, series, species

DIFFERENTIATED PLURAL

In many cases, the plural has a meaning which is different from the singular.

Memory has three different meanings: the faculty “an excellent memory”, what is remembered “the memory of my olds”, an act of remembrance “memories of my childhood”.

Other words show more semantic difference in singular and plural:

Custom: habit. Customs: duties, taxes on imported goods.

Effect: result. Effects: personal property.

Domino: a kind of mask. Dominoes: a game

Force: strength. Forces: the army.

Light: illuminating power. Lights: understanding.

Salt: seasoning substance. Salts: smelling substance.

PLURAL OF COMPOUNDS

In most compounds, the final element takes the plural inflexion: gentlemen.

There are some exceptions that must be noted:

In appositional compounds, when the word man or woman is the first, the two parts are inflected:

Men servants, women servants

In compound titles, both elements are often inflected: lords lieutenants, knights templars.

In some combinations of verb + adverb or preposition, the first element takes the inflection: breaks away, breaks down

Verbal nouns in –er / -ing + adverb, have –s in the first element: lookers-on, bringers-up, standers-by, goers-out, goings-on, settings-up, knockings-down.

Substantive + preposition + substantive: the first element usually takes the –s.

Sons-in-law, men-of-war.

COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE

CLASSIFICATION:

According to content:

Countable nouns denote things that can be counted.

They can refer to material things (chair, car, window), or immaterial things (knock, week, talk).

Uncountable nouns denote things that can´t be counted.

They refer to material things (wine, gold, air), or immaterial (anxiety, music, happiness).

Other denominations are those of Jespersen (thing-words / mass-words), and Zandvoort (class-nouns / material-nouns).

According to function:

Leech and quirk define countable nouns as words that can have a plural form. Mass nouns, refer to substances, qualities, etc, that can´t have a plural form.

Some nouns can belong to both categories, for example hair.

Quirk uses a specific context to classify nouns:

I saw

Count nouns

Uncountable nouns

Combining both characteristics

Furniture

Cake

The bottle

The furniture

The cake

A bottle

A cake

Some furniture

Some cake

bottles

Cakes

According to morphologic and syntactic aspects

Countable nouns are nearly always preceded by a determiner, uncountable nouns are usually used without any determiner, or the determiners much and little.

Countable nouns can take the plural inflection.

According to semantic aspects

Some words have what quirk calls dual membership. Wood, for example, is countable when it refers to a collection of trees (a forest), and non-countable when it refers to the material of which trees are composed.

COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLES IN THE SAME AREA OF MEANING

In many cases English has a separate count noun an a separate non-count noun referring to the same area of meaning:

Countable non countable

A loaf bread

A meal food

A sheep mutton

A pig pork

A leaf follage

DOUBLE USE OF NOUNS WITH CHANGE OF MEANING

Some nouns can be countable and uncountable with some difference of meaning.

Paper

Beauty

Work

DETERMINERS

Following Quirk words, “there are six classes of determiners with respect to their co-ocurrence with the noun classes singular countable, plural countable, and non-countable nouns. These determiners are the following:

 

Singular count

Plural count

Uncountable

The, possessives, no, which, whose, what, some, any

+

+

+

This, that

+

 

+

These, those

 

+

 

Ǿ, some, any, (not stressed) enough

 

+

+

A, an, every, each, either, neither

+

   

much

   

+

PREMODIFIERS

In addition to determiners, there is a large number of other closed-systems that occur before the head of the noun phrase. Quirk calls them pre-modifiers and divides them in three classes:

Predeterminers (all, both, half, double, twice, three…times, fractions).

Ordinals

Quantifiers (many, few, several, much, little, enough)

Open class: a great number of, a large quantity of…..

Partitives: general pieces, bit, item

Typical: sheet of paper, loaf of bread, slice of cake, bar of chocolate…