AskDefine | Define plural

Dictionary Definition

plural adj : grammatical number category referring to two or more items or units [ant: singular] n : the form of a word that is used to denote more than one [syn: plural form] [ant: singular]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From plurel, from pluralis, adjective from plus, pluris ("more"), + adjective suffix -alis.

Adjective

  1. More than one of something.

Antonyms

Translations

more than one

Noun

  1. : a word in the form in which it potentially refers to something other than one person or thing; and other than two things if the language has a dual form.

Usage notes

  • Many languages have singular and plural forms for one item or more than one item. Some have a singular form for one, dual form for two, trial form for three, paucal form for several, and plural for more than two (e.g., Arabic, Fijian).
  • While the plural form generally refers to two or more persons or things, that is not always the case. The plural form is often used for zero persons or things, for fractional things in a quantity greater than one, and for people or things when the quantity is unknown.

Antonyms

Translations

word in plural form

Croatian

Noun

hr-noun m

Synonyms

French

Adjective

  1. plural, large

Extensive Definition

Plural is a grammatical number, typically referring to more than one of the referent in the real world.
In the English language, singular and plural are the only grammatical numbers.
In English, nouns, pronouns, and demonstratives inflect for plurality. (See English plural.) In many other languages, for example German and the various Romance languages, articles and adjectives also inflect for plurality. For example, in the English sentence "The brown cats are running", only the noun and verb are inflected; but in the German sentence "Die braunen Katzen rennen", every word (article, noun, adjective, and verb) is inflected.
In many languages, including a number of Indo-European languages, there is also a dual number (used for indicating two objects). Some other grammatical numbers present in various languages include trial (for three objects) and paucal (for a few objects). In languages with dual, trial, or paucal numbers, plural refers to numbers higher than those (i.e. more than two, more than three, or many). However, numbers besides singular, plural, and to a lesser extent dual, are extremely rare. Languages with measure words such as Chinese and Japanese lack any significant grammatical number at all, though they are likely to have plural personal pronouns.
Some languages distinguish between a plural and a greater plural. A greater plural refers to an abnormally large number for the object of discussion. It should also be noted that the distinction between the paucal, the plural, and the greater plural is often relative to the type of object under discussion. For example, for oranges the paucal number might imply less than ten, whereas for the population of a country it might be used for a few hundred thousand.
The Austronesian language Sursurunga has singular, dual, paucal, greater paucal, and plural. Lihir, another Austronesian language, has singular, dual, trial, paucal, and plural. These are probably the languages with the most complex grammatical number.
Languages having only a singular and plural form may still differ in their treatment of zero. For example, in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, the plural form is used for zero or more than one, and the singular for one thing only. By contrast, in French, the singular form is used for zero.
An interesting difference from Romance/Germanic languages is found in some Slavic and Baltic languages. Here, the final digits of the number determine its form. For example, Polish has singular and plural, and a special form (paucal) for numbers where the last digit is 2, 3 or 4, (excluding endings of 12, 13 and 14). In addition, Slovenian preserved pure dual, using it for numbers ending in 2. In Serbo-Croatian (in addition to the paucal for numbers 2-4), several nouns have alternate forms for counting plural and collective plural (the latter being treated as a collective noun). For example, there are two ways to say leaves: lišće (collective) is used in "Leaves are falling from the trees", but listovi (counting) is used in "Those are some beautiful leaves".
In English, mass nouns and abstract nouns have plurals in less common instances. The phrase "by the waters of Babylon" is merely poetic, but the mass noun "water" takes a plural to signify the water drawn from different sources, with different trace minerals, as in the phrase "Different waters make for different beers." Similarly, the abstract noun "physics" is usually a vast unitary concept, but in its recent meaning of computer game subroutines, a plural sense is possible for different workings of physics, though without a change in inflection: "Throughout the history of the game series, the physics have improved."

Sources

plural in Afrikaans: Meervoud
plural in Tosk Albanian: Plural
plural in Breton: Liester
plural in Catalan: Plural
plural in Czech: Množné číslo
plural in Danish: Pluralis
plural in German: Plural
plural in Spanish: Plural
plural in Esperanto: Pluralo
plural in Scottish Gaelic: Iolra
plural in Croatian: Množina
plural in Icelandic: Fleirtala
plural in Italian: Plurale
plural in Lingala: Boyíké
plural in Lojban: sordaivla
plural in Dutch: Meervoud (taal)
plural in Norwegian: Pluralis
plural in Norwegian Nynorsk: Pluralis
plural in Polish: Liczba mnoga
plural in Portuguese: Plural
plural in Quechua: Achkha yupa
plural in Simple English: Plural
plural in Slovak: Množné číslo
plural in Slovenian: Množina
plural in Serbo-Croatian: Množina
plural in Swedish: Pluralis
plural in Yiddish: פלארעל
plural in Chinese: 众数

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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