Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?

Subject: Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: Sandy Nicholson <sandy -at- ambertext -dot- co -dot- uk>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2006 13:26:25 -0400

Sandy Nicholson wrote:

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'.)


While you're mostly correct, I think there is enough seepage around the edges to confuse a non-native speaker.

Sheep is a single species, and so we talk about multiple breeds of sheep rather than Dorsets and Merinos being two different sheeps. But when we talk about fish (which superficially resemble sheep in the linguistic sense, not the anatomical sense), we are considering multiple species and so we often read about fishes in scientific contexts.

(While we're on the subject, species is both singular and plural.)

I bake my own bread and have several different flours in the house.

Looking around my desk, I don't see a lot of plastic, but I do see a number of different plastics.

Overnight I received several emails from clients (but I also received a lot of other email <g>).

I'll go along with you on software, though. I can't think of any situation where hardwares or softwares would be correct.



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Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?: From: linda_sims
Re: plural form of 'equipment' ?: From: Sandy Nicholson

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