Results 1 to 10 of 10
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2014
    • Posts: 27
    #1

    Use of singular/plural

    Calling All English Mavens!

    I recently enjoyed visiting a "Brainteasers" website and added one of my own of which I do not have the answer to. Hope you can help! Here it goes - You have 2 pens and you give me 1. If I then ask you "How many PENS do you have?" most people will say "1". Is this response correct? Should you say "1 PEN" or "I have 1 PEN". I asked "How many PENS (plural) do you have? It's grammatically incorrect (I think) for me to say "How many PEN (singular) do you have?" knowing you have only 1 PEN. Is the confusion in how the questioned is asked or how it is answered?
    I can think of many other examples such as this.
    How do the singular/plural English rules apply here?

    Thanks!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 12,310
    #2

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    Yes, the response is correct. We ask questions using the plural all the time when a plural answer is not unexpected.

    That is, asking "how many pens do you have?" is not an unusual question.

    We would probably ask "do you own a house?" and not "how many houses do you own?" cause most people only own one house. If that.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,868
    #3

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    Well, I've learnt a new word today - maven. I had to look it up. It's shown as "North American" usage which explains why I, as a BrE speaker, didn't know it.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2014
    • Posts: 27
    #4

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Well, I've learnt a new word today - maven. I had to look it up. It's shown as "North American" usage which explains why I, as a BrE speaker, didn't know it.
    Give me a little more of an explanation. What are the English "rules"/"mechanics" behind this. Can I look them up? Because we use the plural all the time does it make it correct? You have 1 pen, why do we pluralize it (or whatever it may be) when asking, making it more than 1?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,868
    #5

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    The point of the question "How many pens do you have?" is that you need to know the answer. You do not already know that the person only has one pen. If you already knew they only had one pen, you would not need to ask the question.

    How many pens do you have?
    I have one pen.

    How many pens do you have?
    I have six pens?

    It doesn't matter what the answer is, the question is always the same.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 24,499
    #6

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    If you're teaching a child to count and holding up a number of fingers, asking him 'How many fingers can you see?', even if you know the answer is 'one', the question is the same.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2014
    • Posts: 27
    #7

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    touche all! but ...
    Last edited by fluidity; 08-Nov-2014 at 19:50.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,868
    #8

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    Quote Originally Posted by fluidity View Post
    touche all! but ...
    What is that supposed to mean?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2014
    • Posts: 27
    #9

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    Think about it.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,868
    #10

    Re: Use of singular/plural

    I've thought about it. I have better things to think about. Please explain it.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Feb-2013, 18:05
  2. plural or singular
    By chance22 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-Sep-2012, 04:18
  3. Plural vs. singular
    By Allen165 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-Mar-2011, 18:17
  4. Singular vs. plural
    By Allen165 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 24-Feb-2011, 08:22
  5. Singular or plural?
    By hector51 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 29-Nov-2006, 00:55

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •