Number invariable nouns

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Number and Countability


The category of number is a feature of the noun phrase (NP), being a potential characteristic of every one.
In the NP number is marked in twoways:
1. By the addition of the plural morpheme (i.e. morphologically).
e.g. book vs books
2. By the choice of determiners (i.e. syntactically).
e.g. This book vs these books
Outside the NP,number is marked through concord with the verb
e.g. This book is in the library
These books are in the library

However, there are some complications since:

1. Some nouns have plural formbut singular concord: e.g. news.
e.g. News is important today
2. Some nouns have singular form but plural concord (only): e.g. Cattle
e.g. The cattle were grazing
3. Some nouns have only aplural form: e.g. Trousers
e.g. My trousers are (NOT *is) dirty
4. Some nouns are not marked for the plural morphologically, although they have singular and plural concord (cf. 2): e.g. sheep
e.g.The sheep is grazing in the field
The sheep are grazing in the field

Summing up:
· Some words ending in –s take a singular verb
· Some words not ending in –s take a plural verb
· Not all wordsending in –s have a singular form

Invariable nouns
(1) Always singular (with plural form):
Some words have no singular form (they end in -s), but they are used with a singular verb.
Theybelong to any of the following groups:
(a) Subject names: e.g. phonetics
(b) Disease names: e.g. measles (“sarampión”)
(c) Game names: e.g. draughts /dra:fts/ (“damas”)
(d) Miscellaneous:

(a) Subject names: e.g. phonetics, linguistics
e.g. Phonetics is one of the subjects you must study.

(b) Disease names: e.g. measles (“sarampión”), mumps (“paperas”), rickets(“raquitismo”)
e.g. Have you ever had measles? - Yes, I had it when I was a child.

Note: although they are treated as singular, some speakers also accept the plural.
e.g. Have you ever had measles? -...
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