Singulars with Two Different Meanings

Singulars with Two Different Meanings :

Some nouns have two different meanings in the singular.


(i) human beings

(ii) Nation

Peoples – plural

Citizens of different nations


(i) habit

(ii) exercise of a profession

Practices - plural

(i) Habits

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) (i) earth

(ii) reason

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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The Grammar Index

Singulars with Two Different Meanings
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