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like... Zero People, one Person, Two People? Why is it plural grammatically?
(What are you going on about?)
i vaguely remember this from grammar class. it's something to do with the singular only being used for "one". because... zero isn't one, so it can't be the singular, therefore it must be the plural. either way, it doesn't make much sense, cos zero shouldn't be plural OR singular.
and we haven't yet fully integrated it thanks to the days when people were taught Latin in school, hence it was always seen as a separate language rather than as words co-opted into the English language.
Datum is singular. News was plural (technically) a 100 years ago.
"I'm sorry, the news aren't good"?
I can just about take using data in the singular but criteria is the one that annoys me. Apparently agenda is plural as well.
news - (functioning as singular) from Middle English newes, plural of newe new (adj) on model of Old French noveles or Medieval Latin nova new things. - http://www.thefreedictionary.com/news
agenda - Usage Note: It is true that Cicero would have used agendum to refer to a single item of business before the Roman Senate, with agenda as its plural. But in Modern English a phrase such as item on the agenda expresses the sense of agendum, and agenda is used as a singular noun to denote the set or list of such items, as in The agenda for the meeting has not yet been set. If a plural of agenda is required, the form should be agendas: The agendas of both meetings are exceptionally varied. - http://www.thefreedictionary.com/agenda
data - Usage Note: The word data is the plural of Latin datum, "something given," but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times attests: "Data Are Elusive on the Homeless." Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions. But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, where the quantifier very little, which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular. - http://www.thefreedictionary.com/data
Usage Note: Like the analogous etymological plurals agenda and data, criteria is widely used as a singular form. Unlike them, however, it is not yet acceptable in that use.
Languages having only a singular and plural form may still differ in their treatment of zero. For example, in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, the plural form is used for zero or more than one, and the singular for one thing only. By contrast, in French, the singular form is used for zero.
An interesting difference from Romance/Germanic languages is found in some Slavic and Baltic languages. Here, the final digits of the number determine its form. Though most of the modern Slavic languages lack dual form, they do have traces of dual form. For example, Polish has singular and plural, and a special form (paucal) for numbers where the last digit is 2, 3 or 4, (excluding endings of 12, 13 and 14). Russian uses plural form of words ending like genitive singular form for numbers from 2 to 4 and genitive plural form of words for numbers more than 4. In addition, Slovene preserved pure dual, using it for numbers ending in 2. In Serbo-Croatian (in addition to the paucal for numbers 2–4), several nouns have alternate forms for counting plural and collective plural (the latter being treated as a collective noun). For example, there are two ways to say leaves: liš?e (collective) is used in "Leaves are falling from the trees", but listovi (counting) is used in "Those are some beautiful leaves". Old Church Slavonic (also known as Old Slavic), which is close to Proto-Slavic, had dual form not only for nouns, but also for verbs, almost like Sanskrit. Latin, though high inflectional and close to Proto-Indo-European, lacks dual form and some say that the ancestor of the Italic languages or even of Italic and Celtic languages had lost it. Latin still has some traces of dual form. For example, the word duo (two), has one form for masculine and neuter words (duo), and another form for feminine (duae, like in Russian), the word for three has two forms: tres for masculine and feminine words and tria for neuter, while for example, quotior, quinque, etc., have only one. The word diviginti (twenty) is different from other words with -vigint-, for example, triginta.