Indianisms in English: The Curious Case of the Extra S

In English Tips + Tricks, Inspiration, News by Farheen RaajLeave a Comment

“The hairs on my head are falling, even though I eat fishes for protein. Anyways, do you know of any solution to this?”

Sense anything wrong in the above lines? No? Let’s give it a closer look.

HairS? FisheS? AnywayS?

In this concluding post of the Indianisms in English series, we want to draw your attention to a type of alteration that we do so often in our everyday conversation that we don’t even realise is a mistake. In school, we were taught a simple rule that to make the plural form of a singular word, we should add an ‘s’ at the end of it. Easy peasy? Unfortunately not. There are certain words in the English language that remain the same, even when pluralised. ‘Hair’ is the most common of that lot.

A lot of people tend to say “hairs” because we are usually talking about a lot of hair, however, even in that context, it is still a mass of hair, not hairs. If you specifically have to use plurals, you can say “strands of hair”, but “hairs” will always remain incorrect.

Similarly, “fishes’ is now used so commonly that we don’t even bat an eyelid (does that idiom mean something to you? Go look it up!) when it is used around us. However, the fact remains that the plural of fish is still fish, not fishes. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but if it is fishes that you are looking for, you’re barking up the wrong tree (that’s another idiom for you to trace!).

Tricky words around this rule are ‘scissors’ and “news”. When a word already ends with the letter S, how do you pluralise it? In this case, it is simple. You don’t. A single one of them is “one pair of scissors”, more are “multiple scissors”! You cannot have a single “new” either, in the context of information or news. It will always be “news”. Similarly, we also mispronounce the word “anyway”. While this isn’t about the plural form, the word is “anyway” not “anyways”.

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