Grammar: Plural Nouns

Grammar in EAP

Plural Nouns

In English nouns and verbs can be described as singular or plural, depending on the number of things being referred to. For example “report” is singular, “reports” is plural. Plural nouns are common in academic writing (Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan, 1999, p. 291-292).

For example:

Where it comes to narrowing the many scientific uncertainties involved in climate models, there is much left for scientists to do. A priority for the future must clearly be expanding international research and monitoring efforts. But this should not be – as some world leaders would seem to like – a substitute for policy actions. Scientists are generally confident that they can narrow down some of the uncertainties with time. But, as the IPCC scientists concluded in their report, “considering the complex nature of the problem and the scale of the scientific programmes to be undertaken we know that rapid results cannot be expected. Indeed further scientific advances may expose unforeseen problems and areas of ignorance.” The leader of the Princeton University climate-modelling team, Professor Suyukuro Manabe, put it more graphically at the 1990 American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting: “we are never going to have a perfect model. And even if we had one, we wouldn’t know we had it.”


Try this exercise: Plural Nouns

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