machines and machinery

  • coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    What is the difference in meaning?

    Sorry for my humor. There is almost no difference (besides the grammatical difference that one is singular and one is plural). But context is everything. You might say "Look at all this machinery" or you might say "Look at all these machines" in a given context. I would say the two expressions are largely interchangeable. But I wouldn't say that absolutely. I would have to see the intended context.

    Do you have a context?
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    Machinery is a conglomerate--one of those collective nouns that uses singular verbage.

    Machines are plural.

    If you are waxing poetic, it might work better to use singular verbs over plural ones.

    The visual image of machines, also--gives thought to each and every machine as individually standing out--even though they are called machines in a plural sense. Machinery, on the otherhand, regards all the machines in one place as working together to make up a whole of machines....
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Machinery is a conglomerate--one of those collective nouns that uses singular verbage.

    Machines are plural.

    If you are waxing poetic, it might work better to use singular verbs over plural ones.

    The visual image of machines, also--gives thought to each and every machine as individually standing out--even though they are called machines in a plural sense. Machinery, on the otherhand, regards all the machines in one place as working together to make up a whole of machines....

    Yes, and "machinery" could be used figuratively, in contexts that would not allow the substitution of "machines." For example:

    The machinery of his diabolical plan as it unfolded was chilling to behold.
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, and "machinery" could be used figuratively, in contexts that would not allow the substitution of "machines." For example:

    The machinery of his diabolical plan as it unfolded was chilling to behold.


    Ah, yes!....

    ....But you could say, "The machinations of his diabolical plan as it unfolded were chilling to behold!"

    (But, then again, we're getting off-subject....)
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Ah, yes!....

    ....But you could say, "The machinations of his diabolical plan as it unfolded were chilling to behold!"

    (But, then again, we're getting off-subject....)

    True enough! But then ... "machinations" doesn't have quite the potential for cold evil that "machinery" does, wouldn't you agree?

    :)

    But now I think we're establishing that "machines" is far more likely to be used literally, and only literally, whereas "machinery" (and machinations!) has the potential for metaphor.
     

    Roddyboy55

    Senior Member
    England, English UK
    Another aspect is in a large industrial plant where various (individual) machines can work together and represent the factory's machinery.

    Specifically, a cement works will have hoppers, conveyor belts, rotating drums and burners etc.
    Each will be a machine in it's own right and they will be machines if sold to various buyers, but the factory machinery will represent the whole group of machines when working together or if sold as a single lot at auction.

    Any help?
    Rod
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Yes, exactly. And it sounds as though you've been there, done that -- n'est-ce pas?
     
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