Confusion of number
Agreement of number between noun and verb
Don’t Say: A large supply of toys are expected.
Say: A large supply of toys is expected.
Misuse of life, etc., for lives, etc.
Don’t Say: Many people lost their life at sea.
Say: Many people lost their lives at sea.
In English, we use words like life, heart soul, body, mind in the plural when they refer to more than one person.
Misuse of You was for You
Don’t Say: You was very foolish to do that.
Say: You were very foolish to do that.
Was is singular and were is plural, but with the pronoun you, even when it’s singular in meaning, we always use were.
Note: In conditions and wishes we can use were with the singular: If I were you, I’d go, I wish I were rich.
Misuse of There is for There
Don’t Say: There is some girls waiting outside.
Say: There are some girls waiting outside.
There is changes to there are if the noun that follows is the plural.
Misuse of This for These.
Don’t Say: This errors are sometimes made by foreigners.
Say: These errors are sometimes made by foreigners.
This changes to these if the noun that follows is in the plural.
Note: Also avoid the use of this instead of the personal pronoun: John had the book but he gave this to his brother should be John had the book but he gave it to his brother.
The number and A number.
Don’t Say: The number of pupils are increasing.
Say: The number of pupils is increasing.
(b) A number.
Don’t Say: A number of pupils is absent today.
Say: A number of pupils are absent today.
When we precede number by the it denotes a unit and is singular. When it’s preceded by a it means several or many and is plural.
Misuse of the singular with a collective noun of
Don’t Say: The class was divided in its opinion.
Say: The class were divided in their opinions.
A collective noun usually takes a singular verb, but when it denotes the individual members of the group and not the group as a whole use a plural verb.
Misuse of one and parts of one with the
Don’t Say: I read it in one and a half hour.
Say: I read it in one and a half hours.
In English, use the plural with anything greater than one, even if it’s less than two.
Misuse of the plural with the name of a
Don’t Say: English are easier than German.
Say: English is easier than German.
Names of languages are singular and always take a singular verb.
Misuse of the plural before kind or sort
Don’t Say: I don’t like these kind of games.
Say: I don’t like this kind of game. Or: I don’t like games of this kind.
Note: The demonstrative word (this/that etc.) must agree with its noun. In the example, kind is singular and so this must agree with it.
Misuse of all (= everything) with a plural
Don’t Say: Nothing’s left; all are lost.
Say: Nothing’s left; all is lost.
All meaning everything, takes a singular verb, all meaning everybody, takes a plural verb: All of us are present.
Misuse of as well as with a plural verb.
Don’t Say: Tom as well as Mark are coming.
Say: Tom as well as Mark is coming.
Two singular nouns joined by as well as require the verb to be singular.
Misuse of the adjective in the
Don’t Say: The rich have a duty to help the poors.
Say: The rich have a duty to help the poor.
Note: Adjectives can’t take the plural form, even when they’re used as nouns in the plural.
Don’t Say: Billiard is a very difficult game.
Say: Billiards is a very difficult game.
Note: Billiards, draughts, darts are always plural, but are followed by verbs in the singular.
Wages + plural verb.
Don’t Say: Keith complains that his wage is low.
Say: Keith complains that his wages are low.
Note: Wages is a plural noun and takes a plural verb. We Say: a living wage.
Riches + plural verb.
Don’t Say: All her riches was stolen.
Say: All her riches were stolen.
Note: Riches is a plural noun and always takes a plural verb.
Clothes + plural verb.
Don’t Say: Your cloth is very fashionable.
Say: Your clothes are very fashionable.
Note: Cloth, meaning the material of which clothes are made, is singular, and has a plural form cloths (without the e): She cleaned the table with a cloth, Merchants sell different kinds of cloths.
People + plural verb.
Don’t Say: There is lots of people in the cinema.
Say: There are lots of people in the cinema.
Note: People, meaning nation, is singular. The plural is peoples: The Greeks are a brave people. The peoples of Europe are often engaged in war.
Scissors, + plural verb.
Don’t Say: The scissor is lying on the table.
Say: The scissors are lying on the table. Note: All names of things consisting of two parts (like scissors, trousers, spectacles, shears, pliers) take a plural verb. We can Say: a pair of (scissors, etc.)is …
News + singular verb.
Don’t Say: I’m glad that the news are good.
Say: I’m glad that the news is good.
Note: News, though plural in form, always takes a singular verb. If only one thing is meant we say a piece or an item of news: This Is a good piece of news.
Money + singular verb.
Don’t Say: All her money are kept in the bank.
Say: All her money is kept in the bank.
Note: Money is a singular noun and always takes a singular verb and pronoun.
Mathematics, + singular verb.
Don’t Say: Mathematics are not easy to learn.
Say: Mathematics is not easy to learn.
Note: The names of sciences and subjects ending in -ics (like mathematics, physics, politics, gymnastics) generally take a singular verb.
Don’t Say: They’re now using new machineries.
Say: They’re now using new machinery.
Note: Machinery is a singular noun and always takes a singular verb and pronoun. We can say a piece of machinery or pieces of machinery.
Thunder and Lightning.
Don’t Say: There were thunders and lightnings.
Say: There was thunder and lightning.
Note: When only one thing is meant we say a clap of thunder and a flash or bolt of lightning.
Don’t Say: Tom has made great progresses.
Say: Tom has made great progress.
Don’t Say: Karen has good knowledges of history.
Say: Karen has a good knowledge of history.
Don’t Say: Ten sheeps are grazing the field.
Say: Ten sheep are grazing in the field.
Note: Sheep, deer, salmon, and a few other nouns have the same form for singular and plural. We say one sheep or ten sheep.
Don’t Say: The town has fifty thousands people.
Say: The town has fifty thousand people.
Note: Hundred, thousand, and million take the plural form if they’re not preceded by a numeral or by a: Thousands of people were present.
Don’t Say: I want to buy three dozens eggs.
Say: I want to buy three dozen eggs.
Note: (A dozen = 12): I’d like to buy a dozen eggs. When dozen isn’t preceded by a numeral (like three) or by a we use the plural form: There were dozens of eggs.
Don’t Say: The dog lay down on the grasses.
Say: The dog lay down on the grass.
Don’t Say: We didn’t have many fruits this summer.
Say: We didn’t have much fruit this summer.
Note: We rarely use the plural form fruits which means different kinds of fruit: Cyprus produces oranges, apricots, and other fruits.
Don’t Say: Yesterday we had fishes for dinner.
Say: Yesterday we had fish for dinner.
Note: Fish as food or in bulk (= large numbers) is always singular. We rarely use the plural form (fishes) which denotes fish individually: I caught three small fishes.
Don’t Say: Breads are sold at the baker’s.
Say: Bread is sold at the baker’s.
Note: We can say a loaf of bread and loaves of bread: I bought a loaf (two, three, etc., loaves) of bread.
Don’t Say: That man has long hairs.
Say: That man has long hair.
Note: When we use hair to denote a single thread, the plural form is hairs: / found two long hairs in my food.
Don’t Say: The school builds good characters.
Say: The school builds good character.
Note: The plural form characters denotes the letters of the alphabet or the people in a book or play.
Don’t Say: Today I’ve many works to do.
Say: Today I’ve a lot of work to do.
Note: The plural form works means a factory or the writings of an author: The works of Shakespeare are many, I visited the steel works.
Don’t Say: The fire caused many damages.
Say: The fire caused much damage.
Note: The plural form damages denotes money paid to make good a loss: The insurance company paid the man damages.
Don’t Say: Her luggages are at the station.
Say: Her luggage is at the station.
Note: Baggage, another word for luggage, can’t be used in the plural either: The baggage is ready for the train.
Don’t Say: Furnitures are often made of wood.
Say: Furniture is often made of wood.
Note: Furniture is a singular noun and always takes a singular verb and pronoun. A piece of furniture means one thing only.
Don’t Say: Can you give me any informations?
Say: Can you give me any information?
Note: When we mean only one thing we say an item or a bit of information: He gave me a useful item of information.
Don’t Say: Nick gave me some good advices.
Say: Nick gave me some good advice.
Note: When we mean only one thing we say a piece of advice: Let me give you a piece of advice.