The Zero Plurals
Zero plurals are words that were used only in the singular form, even when they were used in a plural context. They did not have a special plural form, as e.g. the word information. The zero-plurals were quite common in the Early Modern period, much more common than nowadays. Therefore the zero-plurals could be divided into different groups:
- zero-plural neuters as descendants of Old English : deer, sheep
- new zero-plural ones: fish
Besides these two groups there was a third group of zero-plurals: The alternative endingless plurals. This group contained two sub groups:
- measure nouns - potential collectives
Measure nouns are words that told the reader or listener something about things that can be counted. Common measure nouns were and still are: month, hand, pound.
Potential collectives were also called mass-like nouns. Those potential collectives contained building materials as brick, clay and military appurtenances as cannon. The use of these forms decreased during the eighteens century.