Sun | Apr 30, 2017

If we could only get our English right

Published:Wednesday | October 29, 2014 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I write to point out two very common grammatical errors commonly made on the local evening news on both stations, which are unfortunately often copied by others in daily parlance.

The first is the habit of adding an 's' to collective nouns so that 'legislation' becomes 'legislations'. There is no such word as 'legislations'. The word 'legislation' is a collective noun, and therefore, refers to more than one item, but does not require an 's', as it does not need to be pluralised to denote the fact that one is referring to more than one piece of legislation.

Similarly, an 's' is often added to 'speculation' to make the word 'speculations' but the term is being used as a collective noun and does not need the 's'. In other words, the collective noun 'speculation' can refer to the speculation of many people and so speculation does not need an 's'.

The second error I heard was on CVM news when the newscaster announced that the Ebola equipment have (sic) arrived in the island and they (sic) are at the airport. The word 'equipment' is singular, even if it refers to more than one item and takes the singular verb and pronoun, despite the fact that equipment refers to more than one item.

In this case, the news writer understood that equipment was a collective noun and required no 's', but still treated it as plural for the purposes of the verb.