English Spoken Here

I Call Shenanigans on Single Nouns With Plural Spellings

The English language is ridiculous. There are all sorts of rules that aren’t actually rules, like “I before E except after C,” which, unfortunately enough for both ESOL students and English-speaking students, is more often than not incorrect.

 

And then there are words that are plural, even when they’re singular. These words are known as pluralia tantum, which is Latin for “plural only.” Here are ten of the most common.

 

Scissors

Image via Fast Co. Designs

 

Like number two on our list, you could say that the plurality comes from the multiple parts that form a whole. Scissors have two blades, after all. You’d never ask for “that scissor over there”. 

 

Pants

Image via NY Mag

 

Pants are one object, but they are a pair. Pairs come in twos. Two is more than one. Ta-da, plural!

 

Riches

Image Via The Order of Preachers

 

The thing about riches is that you’d need a lot of money to be able to call your hoard of gold “riches.”

 

Jitters

Image via Times Higher Education

 

When’s the last time you only had one jitter? If you’re getting jitters, you’re getting jitters

 

Shenanigans

Image via The News Wheel

 

You don’t just get into one shenanigan. You get into multiple shenanigans, of course. 

 

Billiards

Image via Szzljy

 

Sure, billiards is a singular game, but within billiards there are multiple billiards. How novel!

 

News

Image via Betplayers

 

I like to think that news is plural because it never stops. You don’t just get one piece of news, you get a never-ending media filibuster of terrible news, over and over and over again. Wheeee!

 

Glasses

Image via The Telegraph

 

The only type of eyewear that’s singular is the monocle. Because it’s a monocle. 

 

Clothes

Image via iStock

 

Pluralia tantum are more often than not objects with a pairing of two identical things—glasses—but it’s also a way to describe a large collection of not-so-similar things, like shirts, pants, skirts, or jackets. Aka, clothes.

 

Remains

Image via Fun With Science

 

As a verb or a noun, remains is plural at its core, though when used as a pluralized verb, is spelled singularly. John remains, but John and Susie Q remain. Isn’t that fun? Don’t worry, I know it’s not.

 

Featured Image via Owlcation.