"(noun) list" ... is (noun) singular or plural?
Thread poster: Jason Shim

Jason Shim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 00:27
English to Korean
+ ...
Mar 24, 2013

Dear colleagues,
Hi. I've been a translator for 10 years, and this is one question that always keeps me wondering, so I thought I'd ask what other translators think.

I'm currently working on a software GUI.
A recurring term is "( ) List"

The ( ) can be an Object / Folder or any other noun.

For example,

Grocery List / Groceries List
Guest List / Guests List
Object List / Objects List
Customer List / Customers List
Client List / Clients List


Assuning that the ( ) is not a person, such as a user, and using an apastrophe, and using "List of (pl. noun)" are out of the question, what do you see as correct? Singular or plural?

I feel that using singular is incorrect, since a list contains more than one item.
But then, Object List feels more natural Objects List at times.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Is plural correct if being strictly gramatical, or perhaps are both accepted.

Thanks.





[Edited at 2013-03-24 07:29 GMT]


 

Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:57
Chinese to English
+ ...
Singular Mar 24, 2013

I’d use singular for all these cases.

[Edited at 2013-03-24 08:08 GMT]


 

Tomasz Chyrzyński  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:57
Member (2012)
Polish to English
+ ...
Singular Mar 24, 2013

In the examples you presented I would also use singular nouns. If I get it correctly in these phrases (noun +noun) the first noun acts as an adjective because it expresses an attribute of the noun "list". Consider such examples like "history teacher", "ticket office" etc.

 

Jason Shim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 00:27
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 24, 2013

I guess I thought that one through too much.
Thank you for all your help.icon_smile.gif


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:57
German to Serbian
+ ...
Singular Mar 24, 2013

The question is a bit confusing.

Are you asking whether a noun pre-modifier is in singular? Yes, it normally is.

If it's in plural then it may be a genitive, but that's a different function/meaning, eg:

the clients' premises (specific)
client premises (general)

[Edited at 2013-03-24 09:26 GMT]


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:57
Italian to English
Perceived as singular, even if it's plural Mar 24, 2013

As Lingua 5B says, a noun premodifier is singular. In fact, it's singular even if it isn't.

For instance, an educational institution can have a "sports director" where "sports" is a single area of management activity. Even the White House has a "communications director", not a "communication director", suggesting that that the individual concerned is in charge of managing various channels of presidential communication.


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 17:57
Swedish to English
List Mar 24, 2013

Noun list is simply a list of nouns.

 

Alexander C. Thomson  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:57
Dutch to English
+ ...
Finds list vs. error list Mar 24, 2013

I am wondering if there is a mental element in speakers' minds of collective use of some nouns in these contexts. "Errata", "list of errata", "sheet of errors", "list of errors" are all correct — but it is always "error list" in the singular. Yet "list of finds" is always "finds list", not "find list", even though a found object in the singular is correctly "a find".

Several of the examples Jason highlights where singular + "list" is correct are of nouns describing the roles or functions (of people, but the same may obtain grammatically of nouns describing the roles or functions of inanimate objects): "customer/client base" is also the correct form, not with '-s'.

Alex


 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:57
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
List of things or persons Mar 24, 2013

No matter, list is followed by singular-a list of things is made to include; a list of persons is made. A list consists of more than 1thing/person, activity but is always singular. Hope it is clear, gl

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:57
Chinese to English
noun + noun, the first noun must be in its root form Mar 24, 2013

In a phrase of that type

"book list"

we have two nouns stuck together. The first noun is modifying the second noun. It's acting a little bit like an adjective. In this situation, the modifying noun must be in its base form, without any ending.

It's always that way:

football game
bead necklace
brick house
monkey enclosure


 

Jason Shim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 00:27
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 24, 2013

Thank you for all your helpful comments.
It seems that "singular noun + list" is the correct answer.
For some reason, I thought it would be plural because a list contains more than one.

After the I posted the comment, I thought about "Passenger manifest"... which is pretty much a list, and yet I've never heard of "passengers manifest"....


Thank you everyone,
cheers.


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 17:57
Swedish to English
Tough stuff Mar 26, 2013

How about passenger's manifest or passengers' manifest?

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:57
Member (2008)
French to English
Manifest doesn't belong to the passenger(s) Mar 26, 2013

George Hopkins wrote:

How about passenger's manifest or passengers' manifest?


I believe it should be a passenger manifest (no apostrophe). The apostrophe here signifies possession and the manifest belongs to the company, not to the passenger (passenger's manifest) nor even to the whole group of passengers (passengers' manifest).


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:57
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Exactly Mar 26, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

we have two nouns stuck together. The first noun is modifying the second noun. It's acting a little bit like an adjective. In this situation, the modifying noun must be in its base form, without any ending.

It's always that way:


I always tell my pupils that the word on the right is the general word and the one(s) on the left descibe(s) the type of whatever the word on the right is:

weekend
ice cream
strawberry ice creams

We then get the position of where something is:

the beginning of the film
the top of the class

Lastly, we get the genitive, in which case something belongs to someone:

Anne's nose
the children's dog


 


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