Singular vs. Plural Forms in English

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In this episode of the podcast, Aida, who takes care of Customer Support at My English Matters, addresses common questions about the nuances between singular and plural forms in English.

The words that are discussed in this episode are based on questions we received from one of our students. Aida shares the grammatical explanations of the differences as well as examples to illustrate these concepts.

Here are the pairs of words:

  1. “Chance” and “chances”
  2. “Memory” and “memories”
  3. “Queue” and “queues”
  4. “Expectation” and “expectations”
  5. “Price” and “prices”
  6. “Result” and “results”
  7. “Experience” and “experiences”

Let’s explore the differences and understand when to use each form correctly. Listen to the episode here.

You can also listen to this episode on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Chance vs. Chances

Question: Which one is correct: “What is my chance of getting the job?” or “What are my chances of getting the job?”.

Answer: Both forms are correct but convey different meanings.

“What is my chance of getting the job?” refers to a single, overall probability. Conversely, “What are my chances of getting the job?” implies multiple factors influencing the outcome, making it a more natural choice in conversational contexts.

Memory vs. Memories

Question: Why use “memories” instead of “memory” in “People leave, memories stay“?

Answer: “Memories” emphasises a collection of different recollections. In contrast, “memory” in the singular could imply one specific recollection.

Queue vs. Queues

Question: Why use “queues” instead of “queue” in “Long queues are seen at KFC this morning”?

Answer: “Queues” indicates multiple lines of people, possibly at different service points. If there were only one line, “queue” would be appropriate. In busy settings, like KFC during peak hours, “queues” reflects the situation accurately.

Expectation vs. Expectations

Question: Why do we use “expectations” instead of “expectation” in “For some people, it is due to high expectations and not yet finding the perfect mate”?

Answer: “Expectations” refers to various specific hopes or standards for an ideal mate. The singular “expectation” would imply just one overall standard, which doesn’t capture the complexity of what people usually look for in relationships.

Price vs. Prices

Question: Why use “prices” instead of “price” in “Mydin welcomes move to lower imported rice prices”?

Answer: In this context, the plural form “prices” acknowledges the range of costs for imported rice. The singular “price” would imply a single cost, which is not accurate when discussing multiple products or categories.

Result vs. Results

Question: Why use “results” instead of “result” in “To ensure the best results, use Italian tomatoes and fresh basil”?

Answer: “Results” in the plural form refers to multiple outcomes or effects from actions taken. For example, using Italian tomatoes and fresh basil improves various aspects of a dish like flavour, texture, and aroma.

Experience vs. Experiences

Question: When should you use “experience” vs. “experiences”?

Answer: “Experience” refers to knowledge or skills gained over time, while “experiences” refers to specific events or occurrences that someone has lived through.

Make sure you listen to the episode for the full explanation with examples for each pair of words. Understanding these nuances helps clarify why we use plural forms in various contexts.

Thank you to our subscriber for the questions! We hope you enjoy this episode! Happy learning!

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We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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