What Does Singular Mean? (Definition and Examples)

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What Does Singular Mean? (Definition and Examples)

The word singular denotes a quantity of one. Singular contrasts with plural, which denotes more than one. For example:
  • One shark / three sharks
  • (The word shark is singular, but sharks is plural.)
    (Note: The word shark is a singular noun, but sharks is a plural noun.)
  • She dances. / We dance.
  • (She is a singular pronoun, and dances is a singular verb.)
    (We is a plural pronoun, and dance is a plural verb.)
The terms singular and plural are values of the grammatical category of number.

Most Nouns Have Singular and Plural Forms

Most nouns have singular and plural forms. Nouns with singular and plural forms (e.g., shark/sharks, woman/women) are known as a countable noun.

Countable nouns contrast with a non-countable nouns. Non-countable nouns (e.g., honesty, oxygen) are always singular. They do not have a plural forms.

Below are some countable nouns which are plural in number:

Read more about plural nouns.

Agreement in Number (Singular or Plural)

When studying grammar, you often encounter the term agree in number. In English, lots of constructions must agree in number. For example:

A singular subject must have a singular verb, and a plural subject must have a plural verb.
  • She is leaving.
  • (She is a singular subject, and is leaving is a singular verb.)
  • The mouse has eaten our muffins.
  • (The mouse is a singular subject, and has eaten is a singular verb.)
  • The rats have chewed the cable.
  • (The rats is a plural subject, and have chewed is a plural verb.)