Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?

Subject: Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?
From: Sandy Nicholson <sandy -at- ambertext -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2006 18:06:57 +0100

Gérald wrote:

I am writing, or rather translating from the original French version, a document that talks about measuring, inspection and test equipment. Can I write, for example, 'several equipments' or do I need to write 'several pieces of equipment'?

Linda replied:

For most nouns in English, adding 's' is the way to go. However, the word 'equipment', like 'sheep', can be both singular and plural, and the reader is left to determine which it is from context.

In your example, 'several pieces of equipment' is correct.

I agree with Linda that `pieces of equipment' is the phrase that you want to use (or perhaps `devices', `instruments' or something similar, as suggested by Dick). But `sheep' is a red herring here, if you'll pardon the mixture of animals. :o)

The thing about `equipment' is not that it has a non-standard plural form (which is the case with `sheep'), but that it is a mass noun rather than a count noun, so it has no plural form at all. It is more akin to words like `flour', `plastic', `software' and so on. (I threw that last one in because I'm aware that some people talk about `a software', something that sends shivers down my spine. I could also have added `email', which is now widely accepted as a count noun and a mass noun - though I still use it exclusively as a mass noun in my own writing: `some email', but `an email message'.)

(I accidentally sent this message to Linda first time round - apologies to her for the second copy!)

Best wishes,

Ambertext, 2/Gf Bruntsfield Crescent, Edinburgh EH10 4EZ, Scotland
+44 (0) 131 447 9257 sandy -at- ambertext -dot- co -dot- uk
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Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?: From: linda_sims

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