English, as you might have realized by now, is a pretty annoying language (if you’re trying to learn it, anyway). The rules are fluid, there’s always an exception, and common sense doesn’t really apply the way it does to the “other” romance languages, or even German.
In that vein, I present to you 8 nouns that only come in multiples – meaning you can’t have just one of them, because there is no singular form.
Some moods or feelings, like jitters, blues, doldrums, are only available in multitudes, sadly. You’re not allowed to have a single willy (of the creeped-out variety) or one heebie-jeebie (even if you’d rather stop there).
You say “give me the scissors,” not “hand me a scissor,” even though it’s a singular tool. Others are similar (pliers, tongs, tweezers) but not all – you can have one clamp, one bear trap, and one flat iron, even though they, too, are made of joined parts.
Have fun figuring that one out.
If you’d rather have one shenanigan instead of several, well, you’re out luck. You also cannot have a heroic, or go into a hysteric. Womp-womp.
Like goggles and binoculars, the word is only plural, even though a “pair of” can be singular. They’re considered a unit made of connected parts, yet only referred to in the plural form.
There’s a small group of words for things that are left behind – remains, leftovers – and you’re not allowed to have a single one of them.
You’d be hard pressed to find a word for clothing that provides separate holes for two legs that’s a singular noun – shorts, jeans, skinnies, leggings, capris, panties, etc, all follow the plural rule even though they’re a single cut of fabric.
Fun fact: We also refer to brands in the same manner, like Levis, even though it’s actually a possessive – Levi’s – not a plural.
This is a strange one, because most words for masses of stuff made of other, smaller stuff will be a singular noun (rice, sugar, salt), but not suds – it’s a plural noun and has plural agreement (the suds are all over the bathroom), perhaps because a single sud is…what? No one is sure.
Or perhaps just because the people who invented English like to screw with us.
There are a few nouns that refer to possession or ownership – furnishings, belongings, earnings, valuables – and they’re all plural. So score one for consistency, at least.
Interesting, right? I thought so!