a luxury good

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Fujibei, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Fujibei Senior Member

    I thought the noun form of "good" is always used in the plural with an "s" when used in reference to merchandise or products. But I have come across the following examples in the newspapers:
    1. Housing is a luxury good.
    2. Airtravel has become a luxury good.

    Is this usage common and grammarically correct?
  2. LaPetiteAbeille Senior Member

    Yes it is. Housing and airtravel are both uncountable nouns - the s has to drop off luxury goods as a result. As for usage, well... "luxury good(s)" isn't common in everyday English (at least not in Australia), but it's not unheard of either.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I'd say the same about its usage in the UK: not unheard-of but by no means common.

    In this instance we'd be more likely to say a luxury item or simply a luxury.
  4. Fujibei Senior Member

    How about the following from the New York Times?

    ... but textbooks are a luxury good because college education is disproportionately undertaken by the offspring of higher-income families.
  5. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    Use in a newspaper doesn't mean that language is necessarily correct.

    "A good" sounds to me like a moral good, and I wouldn't use it to refer to either single or plural merchandise.

    In the above sentence, I'd have avoided the entire question. The subject (textbooks) is plural (the writer seems to realize this and uses "are," not "is"). I'd have used the usual, conventional term and said "textbooks are luxury goods."

    If it were singular, I'd have said "a textbook is a luxury item."
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Economists need to talk about things which consumers buy, and usually divide these things into two categories, goods and services. All my professional life I have talked of goods, and discussed such things as whether something is an inferior good (something which people buy less of as their income rises), a normal good (something which people buy more of as their income rises), a Giffen good, a Veblen good, and so on. This perhaps makes me ill-qualified to talk about the way the word is used in general speech and writing - the singular form seeming so normal to me - but I have the strong impression that the singular form has long been established in non-technical use, and this isn't a matter of leaching from technical to non-technical language, as has happened with things like the learning curve and diminishing returns.
  7. Fujibei Senior Member

    Thanks for your input.
  8. Ivan_I Senior Member

    What is a moral good?

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