Grammatical number

Grammatical number

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In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category
Grammatical category
A grammatical category is a semantic distinction which is reflected in a morphological paradigm. Grammatical categories can have one or more exponents. For instance, the feature [number] has the exponents [singular] and [plural] in English and many other languages...

 of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

 that expresses count distinctions (such as "one", "two", or "three or more").

The count distinctions typically, but not always, correspond to the actual count of the referents of the marked
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

 noun or pronoun.

The word "number" is also used in linguistics to describe the distinction between certain grammatical aspects that indicate the number of times an event occurs, such as the semelfactive
Semelfactive
In linguistics, semelfactives are a class of aktionsart or lexical verbal aspect. That is, they are a category of how, if at all, time flows in the occurrence of an action or situation; this aspect is incorporated into the root verb itself rather than being expressed grammatically by inflections...

 aspect, the iterative aspect, etc. For that use of the term, see "Grammatical aspect
Grammatical aspect
In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

".

Overview


Most languages of the world have formal means to express differences of number. One widespread distinction, found in English and many other languages, involves a simple two-way number contrast between singular and plural (car/cars, child/children, etc.). Discussion of other more elaborate systems of number appears below.

Grammatical number is a morphological category characterized by the expression of quantity
Quantity
Quantity is a property that can exist as a magnitude or multitude. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more" or "less" or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value in terms of a unit of measurement. Quantity is among the basic classes of things along with quality, substance, change, and relation...

 through inflection or agreement. As an example, consider the English sentences below:
That apple on the table is fresh.
Those two apples on the table are fresh.

The number of apples is marked on the noun—"apple" singular number (one item) vs. "apples" plural number (more than one item)—on the demonstrative, "that/those", and on the verb, "is/are". Note that, especially in the second sentence, all this information can seem redundant
Redundancy (language)
In linguistics, redundancy is the construction of a phrase that presents some idea using more information, often via multiple means, than is necessary for one to be able understand the idea....

, since quantity is already indicated by the numeral "two".

A language has grammatical number when its nouns are subdivided into morphological classes
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 according to the quantity they express, such that:
  1. Every noun
    Noun
    In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

     belongs to a unique number class. (Nouns are partitioned into disjoint classes by number.)
  2. Noun modifiers (such as adjectives) and verb
    Verb
    A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

    s have different forms for each number class and must be inflected
    Inflection
    In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

     to match the number of the nouns to which they refer. (Number is an agreement category
    Agreement (linguistics)
    In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

    .)


This is the case in English: every noun is either singular or plural (a few, such as "fish", can be either, according to context), and at least some modifiers of nouns—namely the demonstrative
Demonstrative
In linguistics, demonstratives are deictic words that indicate which entities a speaker refers to and distinguishes those entities from others...

s, the personal pronouns
English personal pronouns
The personal pronouns in the English language can have various forms according to gender, number, person, and case. Modern English is a language with very little noun or adjective inflection, to the point where some authors describe it as analytic, but the Modern English system of personal pronouns...

, the articles
Article (grammar)
An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an, and some...

, and verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s—are inflected to agree with the number of the nouns to which they refer: "this car" and "these cars" are correct, while "*this cars" or "*these car" are ungrammatical and, therefore, incorrect. Only count nouns can be freely used in the singular and in the plural. Mass nouns, like "wine", "silverware", and "wisdom", are normally used in only the singular. Many languages distinguish between count nouns and mass nouns.

Not all languages have number as a grammatical category. In those that do not, quantity must be expressed either directly, with numeral
Number names
In linguistics, number names are specific words in a natural language that represent numbers.In writing, numerals are symbols also representing numbers...

s, or indirectly, through optional quantifiers. However, many of these languages compensate for the lack of grammatical number with an extensive system of measure word
Measure word
In linguistics, measure words are words that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate an amount of some noun. They denote a unit or measurement and are used with nouns that are not countable. For instance, in English, is a mass noun and thus one cannot say *"three muds", but one can say...

s.

There is a hierarchy among number categories: no language distinguishes a trial unless having a dual, and no language has dual without a plural.

Geographical distribution


Obligatory plural marking of all nouns is found throughout western and northern Eurasia
Eurasiatic languages
Eurasiatic is a language macrofamily proposed by Joseph Greenberg that includes many language families historically spoken in northern Eurasia. The eight branches of Eurasiatic are Etruscan, Indo-European, Uralic–Yukaghir, Altaic, Korean-Japanese-Ainu, Gilyak, Chukotian, and Eskimo–Aleut, spoken in...

 and in most parts of Africa
Languages of Africa
There are over 2100 and by some counts over 3000 languages spoken natively in Africa in several major language families:*Afro-Asiatic spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel...

. The rest of the world presents a heterogeneous picture. Optional plural marking is particularly common in Southeast and East Asia
East Asian languages
East Asian languages describe two notional groupings of languages in East and Southeast Asia:* Languages which have been greatly influenced by Classical Chinese and the Chinese writing system, in particular Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese .* The larger grouping of languages includes the...

 and Australia, and complete lack of plural marking is particularly found in New Guinea
Papuan languages
The Papuan languages are those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The term does not presuppose a genetic relationship. The concept of Papuan peoples as distinct from Melanesians was first suggested and named by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1892.-The...

 and Australia. In addition to the areal correlations, there also seems to be at least one correlation with morphological typology
Morphological typology
Morphological typology is a way of classifying the languages of the world that groups languages according to their common morphological structures. First developed by brothers Friedrich von Schlegel and August von Schlegel, the field organizes languages on the basis of how those languages form...

: Isolating languages appear to favor no or non-obligatory plural marking. This can be seen particularly in Africa, where optionality or absence of plural marking is found particularly in the isolating languages of West Africa.

English



English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is typical of most world languages, in distinguishing only between singular and plural number. The plural form of a noun is usually created by adding the suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 -(e)s. The pronouns have irregular plurals, as in I versus we, because they are ancient and frequently used words. English verbs distinguish singular from plural number in the third person ("He goes" versus "They go").

Swedish


Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 inflects nouns in singular and plural. The plural of the noun is usually obtained by adding a suffix, according to the noun's declension. The suffixes are as follows: -or in the 1st declension (e.g. flicka - flickor), -ar in the 2nd (e.g. bil - bilar), -er in the 3rd (e.g. katt - katter), -n in the 4th (e.g. äpple - äpplen) and no inflectional suffix is added for the nouns in the 5th declension (e.g. bord - bord). Verbs in Swedish do not distinguish singular from plural number.

Romance languages


In modern Romance languages, nouns, adjectives and articles are declined according to number (singular or plural only). Verbs are conjugated for number as well as person.

French


In its written form, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 declines nouns for number (singular or plural). In speech, however, the majority of nouns (and adjectives) are not for the most part declined for number. This is because the typical plural suffix -s or -es, is silent
Silent letter
In an alphabetic writing system, a silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation...

, and thus does not really indicate a change in pronunciation. Some report that spoken number marking on the noun appears when liaison occurs. This is a misconception. The liaison is heard between the article and the noun, not between the noun and whatever word follows it (e.g. "les avions allemands" is heard as "les zavions allemands" and not as "les avions zallemands"). However:
  • some plurals do differ from the singular in pronunciation; for example, masculine singulars in -al [al] typically form masculine plurals in -aux [o].
  • Proper nouns are not pluralized, even in writing. (Les voitures, but Les Peugeot 404
    Peugeot 404
    The Peugeot 404 is a large family car produced by French automobile manufacturer Peugeot from 1960 to 1975, with the exception of the truck which was sold until 1988. It was also made under licence in various African countries until 1991 . It was also built in Argentina by Sevel.Designed by...

    )


Normally, the article or determiner is the primary indicator of number.

Hebrew


In Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, a Semitic language, most nouns have only singular and plural forms, such as ספר /ˈsɛfɛʁ/ "book" and ספרים /sfaˈʁim/ "books", but some have distinct dual forms using a distinct dual suffix (largely nouns pertaining to numbers or time, such as אלפיים /alˈpajim/ "two thousand" and שבועיים /ʃvuˈajim/ "two weeks"), some use this dual suffix for their regular plurals (largely body parts that tend to come in pairs, such as עיניים /eɪˈnajim/ "eyes", as well as some that do not, such as שיניים /ʃiˈnajim/ "teeth"), and some are inherently dual (such as מכנסיים /mɪxnaˈsajim/ "pants" and אופניים /ofaˈnajim/ "bicycle"). Adjectives, verbs, and pronouns agree with their subjects' or antecedents' numbers, but only have a two-way distinction between singular and plural; dual nouns entail plural adjectives, verbs, and pronouns.

Russian


Modern Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 has a singular vs plural number system, but the declension
Declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

 of noun phrases containing numeral expressions is subject to complex rules. For example, "У меня есть одна книга / три книги / пять книг" ("I have one book-nom.sing. / three book-gen.sing. / five book-gen.plur."). See Dual number: Slavic languages for a discussion of number phrases in Russian and other Slavic languages.

The numeral "one" has a plural form, used with pluralia tantum: одни джинсы / одни часы "one pair of jeans, one clock".

Finnish



The Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 has a plural form of every noun case.

talo – house

talot – houses

taloissa – in the houses

However, when a number is used, or a word signifying a number (monta- many), the singular version of the partitive case is used.

kolme taloa – three houses

Singular versus plural



In most languages with grammatical number, nouns, and sometimes other parts of speech, have two forms, the singular, for one instance of a concept, and the plural, for more than one instance. Usually, the singular is the unmarked
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

 form of a word, and the plural is obtained by inflecting
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

 the singular. This is the case in English: car/cars, box/boxes, man/men. There may be exceptional nouns whose plural is identical to the singular: one sheep/two sheep.

Singulative versus collective



Some languages differentiate between an unmarked
Null morpheme
In morpheme-based morphology, a null morpheme is a morpheme that is realized by a phonologically null affix . In simpler terms, a null morpheme is an "invisible" affix. It is also called a zero morpheme; the process of adding a null morpheme is called null affixation, null derivation or zero...

 form, the collective, which is indifferent in respect to number, and a marked form for single entities, called the singulative in this context. For example, in Welsh, moch ("pigs") is a basic form, whereas a suffix is added to form mochyn ("pig"). It is the collective form which is more basic, and it is used as an adjectival modifier, e.g. cig moch ("pig meat", "pork"). The collective form is therefore similar in many respects to an English mass noun like "rice", which in fact refers to a collection of items which are logically countable. However, English has no productive
Productivity (linguistics)
In linguistics, productivity is the degree to which native speakers use a particular grammatical process, especially in word formation. Since use to produce novel structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is...

 process of forming singulative nouns (just phrases such as "a grain of rice"). Therefore, English cannot be said to have a singulative number.

In other languages, singulatives can be regularly formed from collective nouns; e.g. Standard Arabic حجر ḥajar "stone" → حجرة ḥajara "(individual) stone", بقر baqar "cattle" → بقرة baqara "(single) cow". In Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, the suffix for forming singulative form is -ин- -in-; e.g. град grad "hail" → градина gradina "hailstone", лёд lyod "ice" → льдина l'dina "block of ice". In both Russian and Arabic, the singulative form always takes on the feminine gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

.

Dual



The distinction between a "singular" number (one) and a "plural" number (more than one) found in English is not the only possible classification. Another one is "singular" (one), "dual" (two) and "plural" (more than two). Dual number existed in Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

, persisted in many of the now extinct ancient Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 that descended from it—Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 for example—and can still be found in a few modern Indo-European languages such as Slovene. Many more modern Indo-European languages show residual traces of the dual, as in the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 distinctions both vs. all, either vs. any, and so on.

Many Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 also have dual number. For instance, in Arabic all nouns can have singular, plural, or dual forms. For non-broken plural
Broken plural
In linguistics, a broken plural is an irregular plural form of a noun or adjective found in the Semitic languages and other Afroasiatic languages such as Berber. Broken plurals are formed by changing the pattern of consonants and vowels inside the singular form...

s, masculine plural nouns end with ون and feminine plural nouns end with ات , whilst ان , is added to the end of a noun to indicate that it is dual (even among nouns that have broken plurals).

Pronouns in Polynesian languages
Polynesian languages
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian. Polynesians share many cultural traits...

 such as Tahitian
Tahitian language
Tahitian is an indigenous language spoken mainly in the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It is an Eastern Polynesian language closely related to the other indigenous languages spoken in French Polynesia: Marquesan, Tuamotuan, Mangarevan, and Austral Islands languages...

 exhibit the singular, dual, and plural numbers.

Trial


The trial number is a grammatical number referring to 'three items', in contrast to 'singular' (one item), 'dual' (two items), and 'plural' (four or more items). Several Austronesian or Austronesian-based languages such as Tolomako, Lihir
Lihir language
The Lihir language is an Austronesian language spoken in the Lihir island group, in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. It is notable for having 5 levels of grammatical number: singular, dual, trial, paucal and plural. It is questionable whether the trial is indeed trial or whether it is...

, Manam, Bislama, and some registers of Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin is a creole spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. It is an official language of Papua New Guinea and the most widely used language in that country...

 have trial number in their pronouns; no language is known with trial number in its nouns.

Quadral


The quadral number, if it existed, would denote four items together, as trial does three. No natural language has it, nor is there any proof that any natural language ever did. It was once thought to exist in the pronoun systems of Marshallese
Marshallese language
The Marshallese language is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Marshall Islands, and the principal language of the country...

, spoken in the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

 in the Pacific Ocean, and in Sursurunga
Sursurunga language
-Number:Sursurunga is famous for having a five-way grammatical number distinction. The numbers beside singular, dual, and plural have been called trial and quadral ; however, these numbers, which only occur on pronouns, indicate a minimum of three and four, not exactly three and four the way the...

 (Hutchisson 1986), in Tangga (Capell 1971:260-262; Beaumont 1976:390), and in several other Austronesian languages. While not all of these languages are adequately attested, it turns out that Sursurunga instead has both a "lesser paucal" (labeled "trial", but in fact referring to small groups, with typically three or four members) and a "greater paucal" (misnamed the "quadral", as it has a minimum of four, e.g. a pair of dyadic kin terms)—the distinction is along the lines of "a few" vs. "several";—and that what Marshallese actually has is a trial and a paucal. None of them has a "quadral"; in at least two cases the field workers who originally suggested they did have a "quadral" were also the first to publish a peer-reviewed article contradicting that suggestion.

Paucal


Paucal number, for a few (as opposed to many) instances of the referent (e.g. in Hopi
Hopi language
Hopi is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona, USA, although today some Hopi are monolingual English speakers.The use of the language has gradually declined over the course of the 20th century...

, Warlpiri
Warlpiri language
The Warlpiri language is spoken by about 3000 of the Warlpiri people in Australia's Northern Territory. It is one of the Ngarrkic languages of the large Southwest branch of the Pama–Nyungan family, and is one of the largest aboriginal languages in Australia in terms of number of speakers.-...

 and in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 for some nouns). See Quadral and Plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

 for some examples.

Distributive plural


Distributive plural number, for many instances viewed as independent individuals (for example, in Navajo
Navajo language
Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language spoken in the southwestern United States. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages .Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the...

).

Formal expression of number


Synthetic
Synthetic language
In linguistic typology, a synthetic language is a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio, as opposed to a low morpheme-per-word ratio in what is described as an isolating language...

 languages typically distinguish grammatical number by inflection
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

. (Note that analytic languages, such as Chinese, do not have grammatical number.)
Some languages have no marker for the plural in certain cases, e. g. Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 hus --"house, houses" (but huset --"the house", husen --"the houses").
In most languages, the singular is formally unmarked
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

, whereas the plural is marked in some way. Other languages, most notably the Bantu languages
Bantu languages
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

, mark both the singular and the plural, for instance Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 (see example below). The third logical possibility, rarely found in languages, is an unmarked plural contrasting with marked singular. Below are some examples of number affix
Affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es for nouns (where the inflecting morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

s are underlined):
  • Affix
    Affix
    An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

    ation (by adding or removing prefix
    Prefix
    A prefix is an affix which is placed before the root of a word. Particularly in the study of languages,a prefix is also called a preformative, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed.Examples of prefixes:...

    es, suffix
    Suffix
    In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

    es, infix
    Infix
    An infix is an affix inserted inside a word stem . It contrasts with adfix, a rare term for an affix attached to the end of a stem, such as a prefix or suffix.-Indonesian:...

    es, or circumfix
    Circumfix
    A circumfix is an affix, a morpheme that is placed around another morpheme. Circumfixes contrast with prefixes, attached to the beginnings of words; suffixes, that are attached at the end; and infixes, inserted in the middle. See also epenthesis...

    es):
    • Estonian
      Estonian language
      Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

       puu "tree, wood" (singular) – puud "the trees, woods" (nominative plural)
    • Finnish
      Finnish language
      Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

      : lehmä "cow, the cow" (singular) – lehmät "the cows" (nominative plural)
    • Slovene: "linden" (singular) – "linden" (dual) – "linden" (plural)
    • Tamil
      Tamil language
      Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

        "Aan","Pen" "Man,Woman , (Male,Female )" (Singular) – AanKal, Penkal "Two or more Man,Woman (Males, Females)
    • Sanskrit
      Sanskrit
      Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

       puruṣas "man" (singular) – puruṣau "two men" (dual) – puruṣās "men" (plural)
    • Swahili
      Swahili language
      Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

      : mtoto "child" (singular) – watoto "children" (plural)
    • Ganda: omusajja "man" (singular) – abasajja "men" (plural)
    • Georgian
      Georgian language
      Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

      : კაცი k'aci "man" (singular) – კაცები k'acebi "men" (where -i is the nominative case marker)
  • Simulfix
    Simulfix
    In linguistics, a simulfix is a type of affix that changes one or more existing phonemes in order to modify the meaning of a morpheme.Examples of simulfixes in English are generally considered irregularities, all of which left over from pluralization rules that existed before the Great Vowel Shift...

    ion (through various kinds of internal sound alternations
    Apophony
    In linguistics, apophony is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information .-Description:Apophony is...

    ):
    • Arabic
      Arabic language
      Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

      : كِتَاب kitāb "book" (singular) – كُتُب kutub "books" (plural)
  • Apophony
    Apophony
    In linguistics, apophony is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information .-Description:Apophony is...

     (alternating between different vowels):
    • Welsh
      Welsh language
      Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

      : bachgen "boy" – bechgyn "boys"
  • Reduplication
    Reduplication
    Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

     (through doubling):
    • Indonesian
      Indonesian language
      Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

      : orang "person" (singular) – orang-orang "people" (plural); BUT dua orang "two people" and banyak orang "many people" (reduplication is not done when the context is clear and when the plurality is not emphasized)
    • Somali
      Somali language
      The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

      : buug "book" (singular) – buug-ag "books" (plural)
  • Tonality
    Tone (linguistics)
    Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

     (by changing a drag tone to a push tone)
    • Limburgish: daãg "day" (singular) – daàg "days" (plural)


Elements marking number may appear on nouns and pronoun
Pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s in dependent-marking language
Dependent-marking language
A dependent-marking language is one where the grammatical marks showing relations between different constituents of a phrase tend to be placed on the dependents or modifiers, rather than the heads of the phrase in question. In a noun phrase, the head is the main noun and the dependents are the...

s or on verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s and adjectives in head-marking language
Head-marking language
A head-marking language is one where the grammatical marks showing relations between different constituents of a phrase tend to be placed on the heads of the phrase in question, rather than the modifiers or dependents. In a noun phrase, the head is the main noun and the dependents are the...

s.
English
(dependent-marking)
Western Apache
(head-marking)
Paul is teaching the cowboy. Paul idilohí yiłch’ígó’aah.
Paul is teaching the cowboys. Paul idilohí yiłch’ídagó’aah.


In the English sentence above, the plural suffix -s is added to the noun cowboy. In the equivalent in Western Apache
Western Apache
Western Apache refers to the Apache peoples living today primarily in east central Arizona. Most live within reservations. The White Mountain Apache of the Fort Apache, San Carlos, Yavapai-Apache, Tonto Apache, and the Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Indian reservations are home to the majority of...

, a head-marking language
Head-marking language
A head-marking language is one where the grammatical marks showing relations between different constituents of a phrase tend to be placed on the heads of the phrase in question, rather than the modifiers or dependents. In a noun phrase, the head is the main noun and the dependents are the...

, a plural infix da- is added to the verb yiłch’ígó’aah "he is teaching him", resulting in yiłch’ídagó’aah "he is teaching them" while noun idilohí "cowboy" is unmarked for number.

Number particles


Plurality is sometimes marked by a specialized number particle (or number word). This is frequent in Australian and Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

. An example from Tagalog
Tagalog language
Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV and of Metro Manila...

 is the word mga [mɐˈŋa]: compare bahay "house" with mga bahay "houses". In Kapampangan
Kapampangan language
The Pampangan language, or Kapampangan , is one of the major languages of the Philippines. It is the language spoken in the province of Pampanga, the southern half of the province of Tarlac and the northern portion of the province of Bataan. Kapampangan is also understood in some barangays of...

, certain nouns optionally denote plurality by secondary stress: ing laláki "man" and ing babái "woman" become ding láláki "men" and ding bábái "women".

Classifiers with number morphology


In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and some other languages, number and case are fused category and there is concord for number between a noun and its predicator
Predicate (grammar)
There are two competing notions of the predicate in theories of grammar. Traditional grammar tends to view a predicate as one of two main parts of a sentence, the other being the subject, which the predicate modifies. The other understanding of predicates is inspired from work in predicate calculus...

. Some languages however (for example, Assamese
Assamese language
Assamese is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. It is used mainly in the state of Assam in North-East India. It is also the official language of Assam. It is also spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Nagamese, an Assamese-based Creole language is widely used in...

), lack this feature.

Languages that show number inflection for a large enough corpus of nouns and/or allow them to combine directly with singular and plural numerals can be described as non-classifier languages. On the other hand, there are languages that obligatorily require a counter word or the so-called classifier
Classifier (linguistics)
A classifier, in linguistics, sometimes called a measure word, is a word or morpheme used in some languages to classify the referent of a countable noun according to its meaning. In languages that have classifiers, they are often used when the noun is being counted or specified...

 for all nouns. For example, the category of number in Assamese is fused with the category of classifier, which always carries a definite/indefinite reading. The singularity or plurality of the noun is determined by the addition of the classifier suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 either to the noun or to the numeral. Number system in Assamese is either realized as numeral or as nominal inflection, but not both. Numerals [ek] 'one' and [dui] 'two', can be realized as both free morpheme and clitics. When used with classifiers, these two numerals are cliticised to the classifiers.

Obligatoriness of number marking


In many languages, such as English, number is obligatorily expressed in every grammatical context. Some limit number expression to certain classes of nouns, such as animates
Animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

 or referentially prominent nouns (as with proximate forms in most Algonquian language
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

s, opposed to referentially less prominent obviative forms). Still others, like Chinese and Japanese, number marking is not consistently applied to most nouns unless a distinction is needed or already present.

A very common situation is for plural number to not be marked if there is any other overt indication of number, as for example in Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

: virág "flower"; virágok "flowers"; hat virág "six flowers".

Transnumeral


Many languages, such as Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 and Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

, have optional number marking. In such cases, an unmarked noun is neither singular nor plural, but rather ambiguous as to number. This is called transnumeral or sometimes general number, abbreviated . Many such languages have optional number marking, which tends to be used for definite and highly animate referents, most notable first-person pronouns.

Inverse number


The languages of the Tanoan
Tanoan languages
Tanoan is a family of languages spoken in New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.Most of the languages – Tiwa , Tewa, and Towa – are spoken in the Pueblos of New Mexico and were the ones first given the collective name Tanoan, while Kiowa is spoken mostly in southwestern...

 family have three numbers – singular, dual, and plural – and exhibit an unusual system of marking number, called inverse number (or number toggling). In this scheme, every countable noun
Count noun
In linguistics, a count noun is a common noun that can be modified by a numeral and that occurs in both singular and plural form, as well as co-occurring with quantificational determiners like every, each, several, etc. A mass noun has none of these properties...

 has what might be called its "inherent" or "expected" numbers, and is unmarked for these. When a noun appears in an "inverse" (atypical) number, it is inflected to mark this. For example, in Jemez
Jemez language
Jemez is a Kiowa–Tanoan language spoken by the Jemez Pueblo people in New Mexico. It has no written form, as tribal rules do not allow it.-Demographics:...

, where nouns take the ending -sh to denote an inverse number, there are four noun class
Noun class
In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...

es which inflect for number as follows:
class description singular dual plural
I animate nouns - -sh -sh
II some inanimate nouns -sh -sh -
III other inanimate nouns - -sh -
IV mass (non-countable) nouns (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)


As can be seen, class-I nouns are inherently singular, class-II nouns are inherently plural, class-III nouns are inherently singular or plural. Class-IV nouns cannot be counted and are never marked with -sh. (From Sprott 1992, p. 53.)

A similar system is seen in Kiowa
Kiowa language
Kiowa is a Kiowa–Tanoan language spoken by the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma in primarily Caddo, Kiowa, and Comanche counties. The Kiowa tribal center is located in Carnegie...

 (Kiowa is distantly related to Tanoan languages like Jemez):
class singular dual plural
I - - -ɡɔ
II -ɡɔ - -
III -ɡɔ - -ɡɔ
IV (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)


(See also Taos language: Number inflection for a description of inverse number suffixes in another Tanoan language.)

Verbs



In many languages, verbs are conjugated according to number. Using French as an example, one says je vois (I see), but nous voyons (we see). The verb voir (to see) changes from vois in the first person singular to voyons in the plural. In everyday English, this often happens in the third person (she sees, they see), but not in other grammatical persons, except with the verb to be.

Adjectives and determiners


Adjective
Adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s often agree with the number of the noun they modify. For example, in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, one says un grand arbre [œ̃ ɡʁɑ̃t aʁbʁ] "a tall tree", but deux grands arbres [dø ɡʁɑ̃ zaʁbʁ] "two tall trees". The singular adjective grand becomes grands in the plural, unlike English "tall", which remains unchanged.

Other determiners may agree with number. In English, the demonstrative
Demonstrative
In linguistics, demonstratives are deictic words that indicate which entities a speaker refers to and distinguishes those entities from others...

s "this", "that" change to "these", "those" in the plural, and the indefinite article "a", "an" is either omitted or changes to "some". In French and German, the definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

s have gender distinctions
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 in the singular but not the plural. In Spanish and Portuguese, both definite and indefinite articles are inflected for gender and number, e.g. Portuguese o, a "the" (singular, masc./fem.), os, as "the" (plural, masc./fem.); um, uma "a(n)" (singular, masc./fem.), uns, umas "some" (plural, masc./fem.)

In the Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 sentence t ovat pimei "Nights are dark", each word referring to the plural noun yöt "nights" ("night" = ) is pluralized (night-PL is-PL dark-PL-partitive
Partitive
In linguistics, the partitive is a word, phrase, or case that divides something into parts. For example, in the English sentence I'll have some coffee, some is a partitive determiner because it makes the noun phrase some coffee refer to a subset of all coffee...

).

Exceptions


Sometimes, grammatical number will not represent the actual quantity. For example, in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 neuter plurals took a singular verb. The plural form of a pronoun may also be applied to a single individual as a sign of importance, respect or generality, as in the pluralis majestatis
Pluralis majestatis
The majestic plural , is the use of a plural pronoun to refer to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch, bishop, or pope...

, the T-V distinction
T-V distinction
In sociolinguistics, a T–V distinction is a contrast, within one language, between second-person pronouns that are specialized for varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity, or insult toward the addressee....

, and the generic "you"
Generic you
In English grammar and in particular in casual English, generic you or indefinite you is the pronoun you in its use in referring to an unspecified person, as opposed to its use as the second person pronoun.-In English:...

, found in many languages, or, in English, when using the singular "they"
Singular they
Singular they is the use of they to refer to an entity that is not plural, or not necessarily plural. Though singular they is widespread in everyday English and has a long history of usage, debate continues about its acceptability...

 for gender-neutrality.

In Arabic
Arabic grammar
Arabic grammar is the grammar of the Arabic language. Arabic is a Semitic language and its grammar has many similarities with the grammar of other Semitic languages....

, the plural of a non-human noun (one that refers to an animal or to an inanimate
Animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

 entity regardless of whether the noun is grammatically masculine or feminine in the singular) is treated as feminine singular—this is called the inanimate plural. For example:
رجل جميل (rajul jamīl) 'beautiful/handsome man': rajul (man) is masculine singular, so it takes the masculine singular adjective jamīl.
بيت جميل (bayt jamīl) 'beautiful house': bayt (house) is masculine singular, so it takes the masculine singular jamīl.
كلب جميل (kalb jamīl) 'beautiful dog':kalb (dog) is masculine singular, so it takes the masculine singular jamīl.
بنت جميلة (bint jamīlah) 'beautiful girl': bint is feminine singular, so it takes the feminine singular jamīlah.
سيارة جميلة (sayyārah jamīlah) 'beautiful car': sayyārah is feminine singular, so it takes the feminine singular jamīlah.
رجال جميلون (rijāl jamīlūn) 'beautiful/handsome men': rijāl (men) is masculine plural, so it takes the masculine plural jamīlūn.
بنات جميلات (banāt jamīlāt) 'beautiful girls': banāt is feminine plural, so it takes the feminine plural jamīlāt.

but
بيوت جميلة (buyūt jamīlah) 'beautiful houses': buyūt (houses) is non-human plural, and so takes the inanimate plural (feminine singular) jamīlah.
سيارات جميلة (sayyārāt jamīlah) 'beautiful cars': sayyārāt is non-human plural, and so takes the inanimate plural jamīlah.
كلاب جميلة (kilāb jamīlah) 'beautiful dogs': kilāb is non-human plural, and so takes the inanimate plural jamīlah.

Collective nouns


A collective noun is a word that designates a group of objects or beings regarded as a whole, such as "flock", "team", or "corporation". Although many languages treat collective nouns as singular, in others they may be interpreted as plural. In British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

, phrases such as the committee are meeting are common (the so-called agreement in sensu "in meaning"; with the meaning of a noun, rather than with its form). The use of this type of construction varies with dialect and level of formality.

Semantic vs. grammatical number


All languages are able to specify the quantity of referents. They may do so by lexical means with words such as English a few, some, one, two, five hundred. However, not every language has a grammatical category of number. Grammatical number is expressed by morphological
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 and/or syntactic means. That is, it is indicated by certain grammatical elements, such as through affix
Affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es or number words. Grammatical number may be thought of as the indication of semantic number through grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

.

Languages that express quantity only by lexical means lack a grammatical category of number. For instance, in Khmer
Khmer language
Khmer , or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language , with speakers in the tens of millions. Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious...

, neither nouns nor verbs carry any grammatical information concerning number: such information can only be conveyed by lexical items such as khlah 'some', pii-bey 'a few', and so on.

Auxiliary languages


Auxiliary languages often have fairly simple systems of grammatical number. In one of the most common schemes (found, for example, in Interlingua
Interlingua
Interlingua is an international auxiliary language , developed between 1937 and 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association...

 and Ido
Ido
Ido is a constructed language created with the goal of becoming a universal second language for speakers of different linguistic backgrounds as a language easier to learn than ethnic languages...

), nouns and pronouns distinguish between singular and plural, but not other numbers, and adjectives and verbs do not display any number agreement. Note however that in Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

 adjectives must agree in both number and case with the nouns that they qualify.

See also

  • Count noun
    Count noun
    In linguistics, a count noun is a common noun that can be modified by a numeral and that occurs in both singular and plural form, as well as co-occurring with quantificational determiners like every, each, several, etc. A mass noun has none of these properties...

  • Elohim
    Elohim
    Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or...

  • Generic antecedents
  • Grammatical agreement
    Agreement (linguistics)
    In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

  • Grammatical conjugation
    Grammatical conjugation
    In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

  • Grammatical person
    Grammatical person
    Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

  • Inflection
    Inflection
    In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

  • Measure word
    Measure word
    In linguistics, measure words are words that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate an amount of some noun. They denote a unit or measurement and are used with nouns that are not countable. For instance, in English, is a mass noun and thus one cannot say *"three muds", but one can say...

  • Names of numbers in English
    Names of numbers in English
    English numerals are words for numbers used in English-speaking cultures.-Cardinal numbers: Cardinal numbers refer to the size of a group....

  • Noun class
    Noun class
    In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...

  • Number names
    Number names
    In linguistics, number names are specific words in a natural language that represent numbers.In writing, numerals are symbols also representing numbers...

  • Plurale tantum
    Plurale tantum
    A plurale tantum is a noun that appears only in the plural form and does not have a singular variant for referring to a single object...

  • Romance plurals
    Romance plurals
    Plurals in Romance languages appear to be formed in two quite different ways:#By adding -s ; also in Sardinian....