When to use singular and plurals
Here’s a handy quick guide to when certain nouns are singular and when they are plural.
- Collective nouns – as well as companies/organisations – are singular. ‘The CBI is’ not ‘the CBI are’; the government has fallen; the jury retires to consider the verdict. Note, that for some reason, the police, sports teams and pop groups are plural, as in: Chelsea are doing well this season.
- ‘None’ and ‘no-one’ are both singular. So it’s correct to write: Two hundred people were involved in the accident but no-one was hurt.
- The plural of veto is vetoes, also potatoes, tomatoes, embargoes – but tobaccos, pianos, manifestos.
- Plurals of composite words need watching: secretaries-general and governors-general (because they are not generals) and runners-up.
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