Posts Tagged ‘singular’

We saw this post on the ONION, and it sparked a reaction, so here we go, blogging again …


(click here to see the post)

First, we would likely run off the road trying to read this entire sign … seems that might pose more danger than would the characteristics warned of in the sign.

Second, we see inconsistent and questionable grammar in a couple of places:

“… next 22 miles include a variety …”

At first glance, this may seem fine … miles can be counted, and they are talking about more than one mile, so it could be correct to use “22 miles” as plural. However, it could also be considered a “22-mile stretch of road coming up,” in which case, it would be treated as singular, and could read, “… the next 22 miles includes a variety …”

The main reason we even question this first point is because of this next point:

“… plus there’s a few blind corners …”

Now, the grammarian in us says that since corners is plural, the usage should be “there are,” or “there’re.” However, using the same type of reasoning we applied in the previous instance about the 22 miles, we could say that since “a few” is singular, the use of “there’s” (for there is) is acceptable.


It’s likely that the sign writer thought of neither of these issues, and, we’re just spending a Thursday evening picking at some rather obscure matters. But, isn’t that what this blogging business is all about? Plus, we’re having fun with our wonderfully-complex English language. Just be thankful that we’re not even going to mention the split infinitive, or the run-on nature of the entire sign (one sentence) because we love to use these types of items frequently …

How are you passing your time? Are you reading this and asking, “Who cares?”? At least you’re reading it! Thanks.

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By popular demand, we are resurrecting this post and adding commentary:

Our original post:

A reader writes questioning the loss of a singular noun with the word “none,” as it now seems to be considered normal usage.

Occasionally you may hear the refreshingly-correct: “None is …”

Motivated Grammar wrote:

Why is “none are” incorrect? I’ve marshalled a series of arguments for why it’s right, and would be interested in hearing why you disagree. In short, it’s been in use since [the year] 888 and “none” can behave as a semantic plural, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason to oppose it.

 And, our reply was:

Good question, thanks. The word “none” originated as a non-apostrophe contraction meaning “not one,” therefore, a singular pronoun. However, as you correctly point out, it has been used as a plural pronoun for ages. Most references now condone the commoner plural usage, so the only reason we have to oppose the plural is that we are, on most occasions, purists (or maybe just grammar snobs?)

For now, we’re sticking to our GrammarGuns … however, we will recommend leniency for anyone cited for using “none are.”

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It was appalling to hear the CEO of AT&T say, when he was referring to on-site products the company sells:

premise equipment.”

It was equally shocking to see a software company Web site list the following:

“Solutions are available both on-premise and OnDemand.”

Where are the Grammar Police in corporate communications? Yikes!

Here’s today’s lesson …

premise. n. a previous statement serving as a basis for an argument; a proposition helping to support a conclusion.

And, premise may also be used as a verb. However, we won’t get into that here.

Now, one could have more than one thought or premise. In this case, the plural would be regular … just add an “s” to get premises.

That leads us to a “totally different” word:

premises. n. a piece of real estate; a tract of land including its buildings; a building together with its grounds or other appurtenances.

We know it may seem illogical, using a seemingly plural word to speak about a location, BUT …

How many seemingly illogical rules are there in the English language?

The thing is … premises, when referring to location, is both singular and plural. This is an important rule to remember.

Therefore, the premise that this entry is incorrect, is incorrect:

premises is

Thanks to pomphorhynchus for this great example.

Never, never (at the risk of doing time in the GrammarGallows) drop the last “s” from premises when speaking of location!

Now you know. Take a look back at the dreadful offenses with which we started this post. Recognize the errors?

We presume you have read this entry. Based on that premise, we conclude that when you are at home today, you will know that you are on your premises!

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At a friend’s urging, we have added a new category: GrammarGrave for those grammar issues that may no longer be worth pressing.

We will, hesitantly, add to this category as our language evolves (whether we like it or not).

Please stay tuned, and, submit your candidates for burial.

Currently with the morticians:

none” as singular (originated as a contraction for not one). See our earlier post (and comments) “Accepted through misuse

lay” vs. “lie” as to be in a horizontal or recumbent position, or to recline. See our earlier post: “Lie like a rug …

like” vs. “such as” or “as though.” See our earlier post: “Like, totally … NOT

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Did you know that “y’all” can be either singular or plural? Now y’all know!

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