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  1. Just Joined
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    #1

    Why certain animals don't have plural forms

    This is less of a question relating to grammar and more of a question relating to origin.

    So for some animals they have a collective noun, right?

    For example, a flock of sheep. A school of fish etc

    Why did this become the way in which we refer to animals? Why was it that we came to refer to fish this way instead of just saying 'fishes'? Of course it sounds unnatural to us now, but what was the logical reason that it came to be this way?

    Any insights you have to offer would be much appreciated. Thank you

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    #2

    Re: Why certain animals don't have plural forms

    Welcome to the forum, wfra.

    It just happens that the plural form of some animals, such as sheep, fish, and deer is the same as the singular, though the form fishes does exist. Centuries ago, there were many different ways of forming plurals in English. Over time, the -s form came to be used for almost all nouns, but a few fossilized forms survive. There is no logical reason for this.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

  3. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Why certain animals don't have plural forms

    Are you asking about the origin of collective nouns? When did English start using certain words like flock and school in relation to certain animals? If so, I would suggest you research the history of each word individually as I don't think you'll be able to generalise a rule very reliably.

    However, if your question is really meant to ask about the origin of the use of collective nouns for animals in general, it appears that this dates to the late middle ages. See the part headed 'Terms of venery' in the link below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collec...erms_of_venery

    Or are you asking why certain words with a plural sense, like sheep, are not inflected with a final 's'? Your question is not at all clear!

  4. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #4

    Re: Why certain animals don't have plural forms

    There are a few other fossils from other ways of making the plural like ox-oxen. English is the result of a mixture of languages, so as the -s form won favour, some other forms survived. You won't see this with new words, though there was a debate a few years ago about what the future of computer mouse would be as it was a new meaning using an irregular noun..

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