View Full Version : Rules for using Japanese nouns in plural form [in English sentences]?

January 25th, 2010, 11:29
I recently asked my second-years the following question:
Are mukade as dangerous as suzumebachi?My JTE asked me why I used "are" rather than "is." When I wrote the question, I'd meant to ask in the plural form--"Are centipedes as dangerous as giant hornets?" This led to a discussion of how Japanese nouns should be used in English sentences when the plural form is required.

I haven't really been able to find any hard and fast rules online, so I was curious if any of you guys had ever dealt with this question. I have a tendency to avoid adding an "s" to any Japanese noun, because it sounds weird to me. You wouldn't say "I have six sushis on my plate" (would you?). Wikipedia listed "kimonos" and "tsunamis" as examples of Japanese words that sometimes get an "s," though (still sounds strange to me).

What do you guys think?

January 25th, 2010, 12:11
I have no idea about the real grammatical rules, but I prefer to use them without s's. I think it sounds kind of old-fashioned/ignorant, like old men talking about all them geishas.

January 25th, 2010, 13:27
I also avoid using the s. It sounds weird. After all, not even everything in English needs an s to be understood as plural (deer and deer, for example). No idea if there's a real rule, though.

January 25th, 2010, 15:47
Usually when foreign words get adopted into the English language, pluralization is derived (at least in part) from the source language. Since Japanese doesn't conjugate for pluralism for the most part, it would make sense not to do so in an English context and like Sorccy pointed out, there are already similar precedents with English words: 'deer', 'offspring', 'cod', 'series', 'fish', 'shrimp', 'sheep', etc.