Note : This class was larger in older English than at present. It included, for example, year, which in Shakspere has two plurals - six thousand years, twelve year since.
13. A few nouns have two plurals, but usually with some difference in meaning.
brother …..brothers (relatives) and brethren (members of the same society)
horse…..horses (animals) and horse (cavalry)
foot…..feet (parts of the body) and foot (infantry)
sail…..sails (on vessels) and sail (vessels in a fleet)
head…..heads (in usual sense) and head (of cattle)
fish…..fishes (individually) and fish (collectively)
penny…..pennies (single coins) and pence (collectively)
cloth…..cloths (pieces of cloth) and clothes (garments)
die…..dies (for stamping) and dice (for gaming)
The pennies were arranged in neat piles.
English money is reckoned in pounds, shillings and pence.
14. When compound nouns are made plural, the last part usually takes the plural form…less often the first part and rarely both parts.
gentleman usher…..gentlemen ushers
Knight Templar…..Knights Templars
Lord Justice…..Lords Justices
15. Letters of the alphabet, figures, signs used in writing and words regarded merely as words take ’s in the plural.
“Embarrassed" is spelled with two r’s and two s’s.
Your 3’s look like 8’s.
Tell the printer to change the 8’s to 3’s.
Don’t interrupt me with your but’s!
16. Foreign nouns in English sometimes retain their foreign plurals. But many have an English plural also.
Some of the commonest are included in the following list.
alumna (feminine) …..alumnæ
alumnus (masculine) …..alumni
appendix…..appendices and appendixes
bandit…..banditti and bandits
beau…..beaux and beaus
cherub…..cherubim and cherubs
formula…..formulæ and formulas
genius…..genii and geniuses
gymnasium…..gymnasia and gymnasiums
memorandum…..memoranda and memorandums
seraph…..seraphim and seraphs
The two plurals sometimes differ in meaning as
• Michael Angelo and Raphael were geniuses.
• Spirits are sometimes called genii.
• This book has two indices.
• The printer uses signs called indexes.
17. When a proper name with the title Mr., Mrs., Miss or Master is put into the plural, the rules are as follows.
1. The plural of Mr. is Messrs. (pronounced Messers). The name remains in the singular. Thus….
Mr. Jackson….plural Messrs. (or the Messrs.) Jackson
2. Mrs. has no plural. The name itself takes the plural form. Thus….
Mrs. Jackson….plural the Mrs. Jacksons
3. In the case of Miss, sometimes the title is put into the plural, sometimes the name. Thus….
Miss Jackson….plural the Misses Jackson or the Miss Jacksons
The latter expression is somewhat informal. Accordingly, it would not be used in a formal invitation or reply or in addressing a letter.
4. The plural of Master is Masters. The name remains in the singular. Thus….
Master Jackson….plural the Masters Jackson.
Other titles usually remain in the singular, the name taking the plural form as the two General Follansbys. But when two or more names follow, the title becomes plural as Generals Rolfe and Johnson.
Some nouns, on account of their meaning, are seldom or never used in the plural.
Such are many names of qualities (as cheerfulness, mirth), of sciences (as chemistry), of forces (as gravitation).
18. Many nouns, commonly used in the singular only, may take a plural in some special sense. Thus….
earth (the globe)…..earths (kinds of soil)
ice (frozen water) …..ices (food)
tin (a metal) …..tins (tin dishes or cans)
nickel (a metal) …..nickels (coins)
Some nouns are used in the plural only.
Such are: annals, athletics, billiards, dregs, eaves, entrails, lees, nuptials, oats, obsequies, pincers, proceeds, riches, scissors, shears, suds, tweezers, tongs, trousers, victuals, vitals; and (in certain special senses) ashes, goods, links, scales, spectacles, stocks.
19. A few nouns are plural in form, but singular in meaning.
gallows, news, measles, mumps, small pox (for small pocks), politics and some names of sciences (as, civics, economics, ethics, mathematics, physics, optics).
Note : These nouns were formerly plural in sense as well as in form. News, for example, originally meant “new things." Shakespeare uses it both as a singular and as a plural. Thus….“This news was brought to Richard" (King John, v. 3. 12) and “But wherefore do I tell these news to thee?" (1 Henry IV, iii. 2. 121). In a few words modern usage varies. The following nouns are sometimes singular, sometimes plural….alms, amends, bellows, means, pains (in the sense of “effort"), tidings.