Singulars with Two Different Meanings :
Some nouns have two different meanings in the singular.
(i) human beings
Peoples – plural
Citizens of different nations
(ii) exercise of a profession
Practices - plural
The following nouns have one meaning in the singular, two in the plural.
Colour : (noun-singular) : The quality in objects which allows the eyes to see the
difference between (for example) a red flower and a blue flower.
Colours : (noun-plural) - different colours
Colours : (noun-plural) Special sign. Cap, Badge, etc., worn as a sign of one's club,
school, team etc..
He won his colours for football this year.
One's true colours : One's real (especially unpleasant) character, especially when seen for the first time.
I have seen her in her true colours.
Custom : (noun-singular) — established and habitual practice, especially of a religious or social kind
Social customs vary greatly from place to place
Customs : (noun-plural) : habits
Customs : (noun-plural) : taxes paid on goods entering or leaving a country
Have you paid customs duty on this T.V.?
Effect : (noun-singular) : a result or condition produced by a cause.
Effects : (noun-plural) : results : conditions
Effects : (noun-plural) : things such as recorded sounds, patterns of lights, man-made objects etc..
Manner : (noun-singular) method
(i) Manners : (noun-plural) : methods
(ii) Manners : (noun-plural) : social habits
Moral : (noun-singular) : a piece of guidance
(i) Morals : (noun-plural) : moral lessons
(ii) Morals : (noun-plural) : standards of behaviour – especially in matters of sex
She is a woman of loose morals.
Haven't you got any morals at all?
Number : (noun-singular) : Word or figure or quantity
(i) Numbers : (noun-plural) : Quantities
(ii) Numbers : (noun-plural) : Verses
I lisped in numbers and numbers came to me.
Pain : (noun-singular) : Suffering
(i) Pains : (noun-plural) : Sufferings
(ii) Pains : (noun-plural) : trouble : effort
We gave the taxi driver something extra for his pains.
The teacher was at pains to make sure that all the students understood the problem.
Premise : (noun-singular) : proposition - statement - idea
(i) Premises : (noun-plural) : propositions
(ii) Premises : (noun-plural) : buildings
Food bought in this shop may not be eaten on the premises.
Taxes on business premises have gone up.
Quarter : (noun-singular) : fourth part
(i) Quarters : (noun-plural) : fourth parts
(ii) Quarters : (noun-plural) : lodgings
Married quarters are houses where soldiers live with their families.
Spectacle : (noun-singular) - a sight – a grand public show
The great military parade was a grand spectacle.
(i) Spectacles : (noun-plural) : Sights
(ii) Spectacles : (noun-plural) : (Specs) — eye-glasses.
I must get a new pair of spectacles.
Letter : (noun-singular)
(i) letter of the alphabet : Any of the signs in writing or printing that represent a speech sound - (letter of the alphabet).
(ii) epistle : Written or printed message sent usually in an envelope.(epistle)
Letters : (noun-plural) :
(i) letters of the alphabet
(ii) epistles (message)
(iii) Literature in general
He was one of the foremost figures of English letters.
Ground : (noun-singular)
Grounds (noun-plural) :
(i) enclosed land
(ii) a reason : reasons
(iii) dregs - in a liquid that sinks to the bottom and is thrown away
Coffee Dregs :
Murderers and drug dealers are the dregs of society. (most worthless part-dregs)
She refused to marry him on moral grounds.
Singulars with Two Different Meanings
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