a host of animals, including badger, roe deer, nuthatch and woodpecker

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amurotoru

Member
Chinese
Hey there,
I read a sentence on the website of Yorkshire Dales, "Woods act as vital refuges for a host of animals, including badger, roe deer, nuthatch and woodpecker."
I'd like to ask why plural form is not applied to those words of animals? Is it a usage that we can just use single form when introducing (or listing) a kind of animal in such situation?
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I too think this is badly written - nuthatches and woodpeckers are birds. Creatures would therefore have been preferable to animals.

    But there is a common practice of using the singular to refer to the species. This is most often seen among naturalists and game-hunters, for example:
    We have discovered badger in the copse... We hope to see lion on our safari... A farmer might talk about a hundred head of weaners, where the young pigs are in the plural, but head is singular.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm not at all surprised by the original text except that I would expect, like Keith, to see 'creatures' or 'animals and birds'. If I had written this text I would probably have used the singular without an article.

    (amurotoru, "Hey there" is not a courteous greeting in English.)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think I can see why the writer has chosen singular nouns, because the lists of species include a mixture of familiar countable nouns (buttercup), familiar uncountable nouns (clover) and unfamiliar nouns that I, for one, would have to look up (wood cranesbill).

    I would say that at least they have been consistent, but unfortunately they haven't, with "adders" creeping in at the end of "bilberry, cowberry, cloudberry, merlin, golden plover" (all of which are countable; although "plover" is often used as a plural).

    However, despite the inconsistencies, I think it reads well. I would not have noticed anything odd if it had not been pointed out.
     

    amurotoru

    Member
    Chinese
    I'm not at all surprised by the original text except that I would expect, like Keith, to see 'creatures' or 'animals and birds'. If I had written this text I would probably have used the singular without an article.

    (amurotoru, "Hey there" is not a courteous greeting in English.)
    Thanks for telling me that.
     

    amurotoru

    Member
    Chinese
    I think I can see why the writer has chosen singular nouns, because the lists of species include a mixture of familiar countable nouns (buttercup), familiar uncountable nouns (clover) and unfamiliar nouns that I, for one, would have to look up (wood cranesbill).

    I would say that at least they have been consistent, but unfortunately they haven't, with "adders" creeping in at the end of "bilberry, cowberry, cloudberry, merlin, golden plover" (all of which are countable; although "plover" is often used as a plural).

    However, despite the inconsistencies, I think it reads well. I would not have noticed anything odd if it had not been pointed out.
    Thanks~
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the U.S. I would expect overt plurals.

    Where I come from, birds are animals because they aren't plants, or bacteria, or fungi. But I would say wildlife in that spot instead of animals.
     
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