Strait word : plural noun with singular verb.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by usingenglish, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. usingenglish Senior Member

    - the Strait(s) of Gibraltar

    I have read that strait word is a plural noun with singular verb.

    a) Why does strait use a singular verb if it is a plural noun?
    b) What is the singular form for strait?

  2. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    My understanding is that "strait/straits" functions like any standard noun in the English language - "strait" is singular, whereas "straits" is plural.

    The closest to where I live is called Bass Strait, as there is only one strait at that location.

    According to Wikipedia, the Strait of Gibraltar is sometimes referred to in the plural, however I am not aware of this practice applying to any other strait in the world.
  3. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    My thinking is : The geographical feature is a singular item (one definition from OED : "strait" a comparatively narrow waterway connecting two large bodies of water) , so I think the issue is whether to use the word strait or straits - both can be found in English maps of the world - see for example this list - where the singular is definitely much more common. If you use strait, it is a singular noun and requires a singular verb. If you use straits, you use a plural verb. You would not say "The strait of Gibraltar are..." nor would you say "The straits of Gibraltar is..."

    If you have a source for what you read, please share it :)
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    There's a previous thread here.

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