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UNIT 78. Singular and plural


A. Sometimes we use a plural noun for one thing that has two parts. For example:

trousers (two legs) also jeans/tights/shorts/pants

pyjamas (top and bottom)

glasses (or spectacles)



These words are plural, so they take a plural verb:

* My trousers are too long. (not 'is too long')

You can also use a pair of + these words:

* Those are nice jeans. or That's a nice pair of jeans. (not 'a nice jeans')

* I need some new glasses. or I need a new pair of glasses.

B. Some nouns end in -ics but are not usually plural. For example: athletics gymnastics mathematics (or maths) physics electronics economics politics

* Gymnastics is my favourite sport.

News is not plural (see Unit 69C):

* What time is the news on television? (not 'are the news')

Some words ending in -s can be singular or plural. For example:

means a means of transport many means of transport

series a television series two television series

species a species of bird 200 species of bird

C. Some singular nouns are often used with a plural verb. For example:

government staff team family audience committee company firm

These nouns are all groups of people. We often think of them as a number of people (= 'they'), not as one thing (= 'it'). So we often use a plural verb:

* The government (= they) want to increase taxes.

* The staff at the school (= they) are not happy with their new working conditions.

In the same way, we often use a plural verb after the name of a sports team or a company:

* Scotland are playing France next week (in a football match).

* Shell have increased the price of petrol.

A singular verb (The government wants.../Shell has... etc.) is also possible.

We always use a plural verb with police:

* The police have arrested a friend of mine. (not 'The police has')

* Do you think the police are well-paid?

Note that a person in the police is 'a policeman/a policewoman/a police officer' (not 'a police').

D. We do not often use the plural of person ('persons'). We normally use people (a plural word):

* He's a nice person. but They are nice people.

* Many people don't have enough to eat. (not 'doesn't have')

E. We think of a sum of money, a period of time, a distance etc. as one thing. So we use a singular verb:

* Twenty thousand pounds (= it) was stolen in the robbery. (not 'were stolen')

* Three years (= it) is a long time to be without a job. (not 'Three years are ...')

* Six miles is a long way to walk every day.





78.1 Complete the sentences using a word from Sections A or B. Sometimes you need a or some.

1. My eyes aren't very good. I need _glasses._

2. This plant is _a_ very rare _species._

3. Footballers don't wear trousers when they play. They wear ---.

4. The bicycle is --- of transport.

5. The bicycle and the car are --- of transport.

6. I want to cut this piece of material. I need ---.

7. Ann is going to write --- of articles for her local newspaper.

8. There are a lot of American TV --- shown on British television.

9. While we were out walking, we saw 25 different --- of bird.


78.2 In each example the words on the left are connected with an activity (for example, a sport or an academic subject). Write the name of the activity. Each time the beginning of the word is given.

1. calculate algebra equation: mathematics.

2. government election minister: p---

3. finance trade industry: e---

4. running lumping throwing: a---

5. light heat gravity: ph---

6. exercises somersault parallel bars: gy---

7. computer silicon chip video games: el---



78.3 Choose the correct form of the verb, singular or plural. In one sentence either the singular or plural verb is possible.

1. Gymnastics _is/are_ my favourite sport. ('is' is correct)

2. The trousers you bought for me _doesn't/don't_ fit me.

3. The police _want/wants_ to interview two men about the robbery last week.

4. Physics _was/were_ my best subject at school.

5. Can I borrow your scissors? Mine _isn't/aren't_ sharp enough.

6. Fortunately the news _wasn't/weren't_ as bad as we expected.

7. Where _does/do_ your family live?

8. Three days _isn't/aren't_ long enough for a good holiday.

9. I can't find my binoculars. Do you know where _it is/they are?_

10. Do you think the people _is/are_ happy with the government?

11. _Does/Do_ the police know how the accident happened?

12. I don't like very hot weather. Thirty degrees _is/are_ too warm for me.


78.4 Most of these sentences are wrong. Correct them where necessary; Put 'RIGHT' if the sentence is already correct.

1. The government want to increase taxes. _RIGHT (wants' is also correct)_

2. Susan was wearing a black jeans.

3. Brazil are playing Italy in a football match next Wednesday.

4. I like Martin and Jill. They're very nice persons.

5. I need more money than that. Ten pounds are not enough.

6. I'm going to buy a new pyjama.

7. The committee haven't made a decision yet.

8. Many people has given up smoking.

9. There was a police standing at the corner of the street.

10. Has the police arrived yet?

11. This scissors is not very sharp.



UNIT 79. Noun + noun (a tennis ball/a headache etc.)


A. We often use two nouns together (noun + noun) to mean one thing/person/idea etc. For example:

a tennis ball a bank manager a road accident income tax the city centre

The first noun is like an adjective--it tells us what kind of thing/person/idea etc. For example:

a tennis ball = a ball used to play tennis

a road accident = an accident that happens on the road

income tax = tax that you pay on your income

the sea temperature = the temperature of the sea

a London doctor = a doctor from London

So you can say:

a television camera a television programme a television studio a television producer

(all different things or people to do with television)

language problems marriage problems health problems work problems

(all different kinds of problems)


garden vegetables (= vegetables that are grown in a garden)

a vegetable garden (= a garden where vegetables are grown)

Often the first word ends in ~ing. Usually these are things used for doing something. For example:

a washing machine a frying pan a swimming pool the dining room

Sometimes there are more than two nouns together:

* I waited at the hotel reception desk. (= a desk)

* We watched the World Swimming Championships on television.

* If you want to play table tennis (= a game), you need a table tennis table (= a table).

B. When nouns are together like this, sometimes we write them as one word and sometimes as two separate words. For example:

a headache toothpaste a weekend a stomach ache table tennis

There are no clear rules for this. If you are not sure, it is usually better to write two words.

You can often put a hyphen (-) between the two words (but this is not usually necessary): a dining-room the city-centre

C. Note the difference between:

a wine glass (perhaps empty) and a glass of wine (= a glass with wine in it)

a shopping bag (perhaps empty) and a bag of shopping (= a bag full of shopping)

D. When we use noun + noun, the first noun is like an adjective. It is normally singular but the meaning is often plural. For example, a bookshop is a shop where you can buy books, an apple tree is a tree that has apples.

In the same way we say:

a three-hour journey (not 'a three-hours journey')

a ten-pound note (not 'pounds') two 14-year-old girls (not 'years')

a four-week English course (not 'weeks') a three-page letter (not 'pages')

So we say:

* It was a three-hour journey. but The journey took three hours.

For the structure 'I've got three weeks' holiday', see Unit 80E.





79.1 What do we call these things and people? Use the structure noun + noun.

1. A ticket for a concert is _a concert ticket!_

2. A magazine about computers is ---.

3. Photographs taken on your holiday are your ---.

4. Chocolate made with milk is ---.

5. Somebody whose job is to inspect factories is ---.

6. A hotel in central London is ---.

7. The results of your examinations are your ---.

8. The carpet in the dining room is ---.

9. A scandal involving a football club is ---.

10. A question that has two parts is ---.

11. A girl who is seven years old is ---.


79.2 Write the correct word for each picture. Each word has two parts and these are given above the pictures. In la for example, you must decide whether the word is boathouse or houseboat.






79.3 Answer the questions using two of the following words each time:

accident belt card credit editor forecast number road room seat shop weather window

1. This can be caused by bad driving. _A road accident_

2. If you're staying at a hotel, you need to remember this. Your ---

3. You should wear this when you're in a car. A ---

4. You can sometimes use this to pay for things instead of cash. A ---

5. If you want to know if it's going to rain, you can read or listen to this. The ---

6. This person is a top journalist. A ---

7. You might stop to look in this when you're walking along a street. A ---


79.4 Complete the sentences using one of the following:

15 minute(s) 60 minute(s) two hour(s) five day(s) two year(s) 500 year(s) six mile(s) 20 pound(s) five course(s) ten page(s) 450 page(s)

Sometimes you need the singular (day/page etc.) and sometimes the plural(days/pages etc.)

1. It's quite a long book. There are _450 pages._

2. A few days ago I received a _ten-page_ letter from Julia.

3. I didn't have any change. I only had a --- note.

4. At work in the morning I usually have a --- break for coffee.

5. There are --- in an hour.

6. It's only a --- flight from London to Madrid.

7. It was a big meal. There were ---

8. Mary has just started a new job. She's got a --- contract.

9. The oldest building in the city is the --- old castle.

10. I work --- a week. Saturday and Sunday are free.

11. We went for a --- walk in the country.



UNIT 80. -s (the girl's name) and of... (the name of the book)


A. We normally use -'s for people or animals (the girl's.../the horse's... etc.):

the girl's name the horse's tail Mr Evans's daughter a woman's hat the manager's office Sarah's eyes

* Where is the manager's office? (not 'the office of the manager')

* What colour are Sarah's eyes? (not 'the eyes of Sarah')

Note that you can use -'s without a following noun:

* This isn't my book. It's my brother's. (= my brother's book)

We do not always use -'s for people. For example, we would use of... in this sentence:

* What is the name of the man who lent us the money? ('the man who lent us the money' is too long to be followed by -'s)

Note that we say a woman's hat (= a hat for a woman), a boy's name (= a name for a boy), a bird's egg (= an egg laid by a bird) etc.

B. For things, ideas etc. we normally use of ( ... of the book/... of the restaurant etc.):

the door of the garage (not 'the garage's door')

the name of the book

the owner of the restaurant

Sometimes you can use the structure noun + noun (see Unit 79):

the garage door the restaurant owner

We normally use of (not noun + noun ) with the beginning/end/top/bottom/front/back middle/side etc. So we say:

the back of the car (not 'the car back')

the beginning of the month

C. You can usually use -'s or of... for an organization (= a group of people). So you can say:

the government's decision or the decision of the government

the company's success or the success of the company

It is also possible to use -'s for places. So you can say:

the city's new theatre the world's population Italy's largest city

D. After a singular noun we use -'s:

my sister's room (= her room--one sister)

Mr Carter's house

After a plural noun (sisters,, friends etc.) we put ' (an apostrophe) after the s (s'):

my sisters' room (= their room--two or more sisters)

the Carters' house (Mr and Mrs Carter)

If a plural noun does not end in -s (for example, men/women/children/people) we use -s:

the men's changing room a children's book (= a book for children)

Note that you can use -'s after more than one noun:

Jack and Jill's wedding Mr and Mrs Carter's house

E. You can also use -'s with time expressions (yesterday/next week etc.)

* Have you still got yesterday's newspaper?

* Next week's meeting has been cancelled.

In the same way, you can say today's .../tomorrow's .../this evening's ... Monday's ... etc.

We also use -'s (or -s' with plural words) with periods of time:

* I've got a week's holiday starting on Monday.

* Jill has got three weeks' holiday.

* I live near the station - it's only about ten minutes' walk.

Compare this structure with 'a three-hour journey', 'a ten-minute walk' etc. (see Unit 79D).





80.1 Join the two (or three) nouns. Sometimes you have to use -'s or -s'; and sometimes you have to use ... of ...

1. the owner/that car _the owner of that car_

2. the mother/Ann _Ann's mother_

3. the jacket/that man ---

4. the top/the page ---

5. the daughter/Charles ---

6. the cause/the problem ---

7. the newspaper/yesterday ---

8. the birthday/my father ---

9. the name/this street ---

10. the toys/the children ---

11. the new manager/the company ---

12. the result/the football match ---

13. the garden/our neighbours ---

14. the ground floor/the building ---

15. the children/Don and Mary ---

16. the economic policy/the government ---

17. the husband/Catherine ---

18. the husband/the woman-talking to Mary ---

19. the car/the parents/Mike ---

20. the wedding/the friend I Helen ---


80.2 What is another way of saying these things? Use -'s.

1. a hat for a woman _a woman's hat_

2. a name for a boy ---

3. clothes for children ---

4. a school for girls ---

5. a nest for a bird ---

6. a magazine for women ---


80.3 Read each sentence and write a new sentence beginning with the underline words.

1. The meeting _tomorrow_ has been cancelled.

_Tomorrow's meeting has been cancelled._

2. The storm _last week_ caused a lot of damage.

Last ---

3. The only cinema in _the town_ has closed down.

The ---

4. Exports from _Britain_ to the United States have fallen recently.

5. Tourism is the main industry in _the region._


80.4 Use the information given to complete the sentences.

1. If I leave my house at 9 o'clock and drive to London, I arrive at about 12.

So it's about _three hours' drive_ to London from my house. (drive)

2. If I leave my house at 8.S5 and walk-to the station, I get there at 9 o'clock.

So it's only --- from my house to the station. (walk)

3. I'm going on holiday on the 12th. I have to be back at work on the 26th.

So I've got --- (holiday)

4. I went to sleep at 3 o'clock this morning and woke up an hour later. After that I couldn't sleep. So last night I only had --- (sleep)



Date: 2016-03-03; view: 3110

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