By Mehper C. Palavuzlar


2010-10-18 09:26:04 8 Comments

We use "the news is good" instead of "the news are good."

What is the rationale behind this? Are there similar situations in English?

1 comments

@RegDwigнt 2010-10-18 10:11:11

News is uncountable and is used with singular verbs. The -s is there because etymologically, it used to be a plural form. Etymonline says:

late 14c., plural of new (n.) "new thing," from new (adj.), q.v.; after Fr. nouvelles, used in Bible translations to render M.L. nova (neut. pl.) "news," lit. "new things." Sometimes still regarded as plural, 17c.-19c.

As to other nouns like this, I have looked through a number of Wiktionary and Wikipedia categories, and the closest I could come to similar examples is measles and billiards.

Yet another interesting (but not really similar) case is species. Wikipedia says:

Specie and species make a fascinating case. Both words come from a Latin word meaning "kind", but they do not form a singular-plural pair. In Latin, specie is the ablative singular form, while species is the nominative form, which happens to be the same in both singular and plural. In English, species behaves similarly—as a noun with identical singular and plural—while specie is treated as a mass noun, referring to money in the form of coins (the idea is of "[payment] in kind").

@ShreevatsaR 2010-10-18 14:43:57

What do you mean by "other nouns like this"?

@RegDwigнt 2010-10-18 15:10:35

@ShreevatsaR: I mean nouns where the singular form suspiciously looks as if it were plural, as in "bad news is good news" or "billiards is fun".

@Peter Shor 2015-11-24 12:16:32

Also headquarters and shambles.

@Scott 2017-07-15 01:07:38

Some dictionaries suggest that "nuptials" is, or can be, singular.

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