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This page pertains to UD version 2.

Number: number

In English, Number is a feature of nouns and other parts of speech that mark agreement with nouns, i.e. personal pronouns, verbs including verbal auxiliaries, and some determiners.

For nouns, number is determined primarily by agreement (not necessarily form), per Penn Treebank tag guidelines. The values are described below: essentially, Sing for nouns that take singular agreement, Plur for most nouns that take plural agreement, and Ptan for pluralia tantum (nouns exhibiting grammatically plural morphology and agreement that cannot be made singular). (There is no separate value for collective/mass nouns.)

For many word types, the Number feature is variable—that is, it depends on context and not just form.

Sing: singular

The grammatical singular vs. plural contrast is defined in terms of agreement. A singular noun prototypically denotes one person, animal, or thing, but collective/mass nouns may also be grammatically singular. Every noun with the PTB tag NN or NNP is marked with this feature. In addition, singular pronouns (see PRON), singular demonstrative determiners, and verbs with a singular subject receive this feature.


Plur: plural

Every noun with the PTB tag NNS or NNPS (including measure terms like inches or years even though sometimes the measurement noun phrase can be construed as singular and take singular agreement) is considered plural. This feature applies to such nouns with the exception of pluralia tantum (Ptan; see below). In addition, plural pronouns (see PRON), plural demonstrative determiners, and verbs with a plural subject receive this feature.


Ptan: plurale tantum

Some nouns appear only in the plural form, with a regular plural suffix and plural agreement, but lack a singular counterpart (at least when serving as a nominal head). (The lemma is therefore the plural form.) These form a relatively closed set. Semantically, they often denote a mass-like collection, or a doublet object.

Note that some nouns have endings that look like regular plural endings, but are not: linguistics and Xerxes are singular, and species and series may be singular or plural, but none of these are pluralia tantum.


Number in other languages: [ab] [arr] [bej] [bg] [bm] [cs] [cy] [el] [en] [es] [ess] [eu] [fi] [fr] [ga] [gn] [gub] [hbo] [hu] [hy] [it] [ka] [ky] [myv] [orv] [pcm] [pt] [qpm] [ru] [sl] [sv] [tpn] [tr] [tt] [u] [uk] [urb] [urj]