Plural Adjectives – An Arts Degree In Grammar

When can you use plural adjectives?

So the general rule in English grammar is that we should never use plural adjectives. To make it clear, this is not to be confused with the possessive adjective, which is a totally different kettle of grammatical fish.

Therefore, a driver’s licence is not what I am going to go on about. Although, possessive adjectives could occupy me for weeks, due to their exceptional list of exceptions.

Why a chair leg is not a chair’s leg, or that a door handle is not a door’s handle, but of course it is a dog’s tail, is all for another time. It’s (no not its) not easy huh?

However, it does it drive me crazy when I see a books author, as opposed to the correct form, which is a book author, no matter how many books the author has written. To use the plural form, it is necessary to use the partitive, which would read, an author of books.

So ok, we can’t use a cars door, because it is a car door. We can’t have a tradings bank because it’s a trading bank, so why can we use a savings bank?

Then there is the classic case of a glass cabinet never being plural, no matter how many glasses it holds, but of course, we can call it a drinks cabinet, which indicates that it has a nice range of beverages to choose from. Cheers!

Then again we can have a clothes basket and a sports car, which are not plural adjectives. Clothes is an uncountable noun, and sports is an odd adjective that always carries an ‘s’. Confused about plural adjectives yet?

We could move on to a five-dollar bill or a ten-pound note, but this would only drive us all nuts, as there is clearly a plural number of dollars and pounds involved here.

By the way, are you a cat lover, or a lover of cats? Or are you a people person? Damn, that’s a plural adjective!

Do you work in the chemicals industry or the insurance sector?

Oh, my head is aching.

So yes, the general rule in English is that adjectives should never ever be plural. Therefore, never dare to add that terrible ‘s’ to them. Well, unless of course, that is, well, it’s a time when you should. I’m off to attack the drinks cabinet! Boy, what a language!

3 thoughts on “Plural Adjectives – An Arts Degree In Grammar”

  1. That made me smile. We should add compounds, otherwise it’s just not confusing enough.

  2. Derek, never thought about plural adjectives. Thanks! Please proofread your article. There are a couple of mistakes. My eyes kept stumbling.

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