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The singular ( Latin [numerus] singularis 'singular', derived from singulus 'single'; abbreviations Sing., Sg. ) Is another expression for singular . He is the basic number . The singular is most often used to denote individual specimens of a living being or thing; the plural form in these cases denotes two or more copies. In some languages ​​there are other forms of counting, see Numerus .

Special cases

A noun that is only used in the singular (“Obst”, “Regen”) is called a singular tantum; a noun that is only used in the plural, plural tantum .

Sometimes a verb is singular, although the subject actually requires the plural (see Constructio ad sensum ).

Certain uses are the collective, the generalizing, and the representative singular.

  • Examples of the collective singular (sometimes also generic singular):
    • the hair in the meaning of "totality of hair", "tuft of hair", "coat"
    • " Fish is an easily digestible source of protein."

The generalizing singular occurs only with generic names and refers to the entire genus.

  • Examples of the generalizing singular:
    • “Germans are considered hardworking.” This means (in principle) all Germans.
    • "The man", "the Roman", "the reader", "the voter"

The representative singular uses the singular, but means all individuals to whom the statement refers. It does not designate the totality of all representatives of a species, but an indefinite plurality.

  • Examples of the representative singular:
    • “Without the atomic physicist, the Americans would not have been able to end World War II in August 1945.” Not all atomic physicists are meant here , but several , namely the atomic physicists working in the service of the USA.
    • " Homo homini lupus " ( i. E. Omnes homines , all people)

There is a smooth transition between the representative and the generalizing singular.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Singular  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: singular  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Directory of the grammatical terms glossary on
  2. ^ Daniel Schmidt-Brücken: Generalization in the discourse: Generic knowledge indexing in colonial usage . de Gruyter, Berlin, Munich, Boston 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-037835-1 , pp. 35 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  3. a b List of grammatical terms. Retrieved July 19, 2018 .
  4. ^ Hermann Paul: Middle High German Grammar . 25th edition. Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-484-64034-4 , p. 352 ( limited preview in Google Book search).