Why "form" is not pluralized in this sentence?

Hi everyone,

In the following sentence:

Scientists found one in every 25 adults are prone to night time wandering, with 29.2 per cent reporting some form of sleepwalking since childhood.
1- Why “form” is not pluralized?

2- Why the verb “pluralize” is not in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

  1. The word form must agree in person with the word some to which it refers.

  2. Not every word is in a dictionary.

You could say “some form” or “some forms” in different contexts.

I don’t know what the different forms of sleepwalking are, so let’s just call them form a, form b, form c, and form d.

If 29.2% reported form a and 29.2% reported form b, but 0% reported form c or form d, you could say that “29.2% reported some forms of sleepwalking, but 0% reported the other forms.”

Now let’s say that each adult reported just one form of sleepwalking, 26.2% reported form a, and 1% reported each of the other three forms. In this case you could say “29.2% reported some form of sleepwalking” in the sense that if we don’t differentiate between the forms of sleepwalking, 29.2% of all adults are reporting sleepwalking.

In other words, if you are differentiating between the different forms of sleepwalking and want to talk about them individually, use the plural. If you just want to make an observation about all forms of sleepwalking collectively without differentiating, use the singular.

Another example:
If you want to make the point that measles and small pox will kill you, but the common cold won’t kill you, say
“Some diseases will kill you.”
If you want to make the point that some day a disease will come along and end your life say
“Some disease will kill you.”


As to your second question, “plural” is normally used as a noun or an adjective. There are certain suffixes can that can be added to nearly every noun that will make an English speaker recognize that you are trying to turn it into a verb. “-ize” is one of those suffixes. Sometimes it is used quite sensibly, sometimes it is used facetiously. A dictionary would probably have to list every noun a second time with the “-ize” suffix to cover every possible use of it.

It’s singular because they’re exhibiting one (or at least one) form of sleepwalking. If the report used the word ‘forms’ the number would be less then 1 in 25 since it wouldn’t be able to count the people that only reported one form of sleepwalking.

This is the answer. However, it can’t hurt to have it explained in more than one way.

It’s a quirk of English that, when we are referring to each member of a group, we treat the subject as being singular, not plural. Even though we are talking about many adults, we are talking about them all individually. As each person may have only experienced one form of sleepwalking, it is proper not to use the plural.

I don’t really understand what you mean, but anyway we are talking about the object of the sentence here, “form”, not the subject.

Although that said, some might argue that the OP’s “one in every 25 adults *are *prone” is wrong, and should instead be “one in every 25 adults *is *prone”, because you’re talking about one adult. I wouldn’t agree - “one in every 25” is a proportion of the group of all adults, rather than a reference to a particular individual, and so can reasonably be thought of as plural.

I’m pretty sure he means the sentence should be understood as: Scientists found one in every 25 adults are prone to night time wandering, with 29.2 per cent [each] reporting some form of sleepwalking since childhood.

This understood but unstated “each” then leads us to think of each individual reporting one form of sleepwalking rather than the thinking of the group as a whole reporting several different forms of same. Hence the answer to the OP as to why “form” is singular.

“pluralize” is in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Yes, but that doesn’t really matter. “-ize” or “-ise” is a living suffix in English, and so can be used freely to form new words. For example, if I wanted to say that another forum should be more like the Straight Dope, I could say, “I want to Straight-Dope-ise that forum.” “Straight-Dope-ise” is not in any dictionary, and Google tells me that it’s never been used before, but it’s a perfectly fine English word.

I just want to compliment this poster. Until I read your post, I didn’t understand why a foreign speaker would expect that “form” should be plural. It takes a lot of insight to identify a feature of the language that is so transparent to native speakers.

Ah, but is the explanation correct? I wouldn’t say that “some form” is singular because “form” is “an element of a group”, but because its number is undefined; items which may be “one or more than one” are, as JoeyP explained very concisely, treated as singular.

The fact that these forms are “of something” is no more relevant than whether a dozen is of eggs (plural) or of people (collective, therefore singular).

Verbing weirds language.

The problem that Reza encountered, and that BigT recognised, is that the statement, taken literally, appears to say that 29.2% of people (collectively) experienced some form (only one form shared between all 29.2% of them) of sleepwalking.

This meaning was invisible to me, because I naturally reinterpreted the sentence, as it was intended, to say that each one person, of the 29.2%, experienced some form of sleepwalking.

This reinterpretation is based on the rule that BigT elucidated, which I was not consciously aware of.

Joey’s explanation requires this reinterpretation, but doesn’t state it explicitly.
Incidentally (but off topic) “people” and “eggs” are both plural; it’s just that “people” is an irregular plural that doesn’t end in “s”.

“People” is even more irregular than that: it can be singular too, in the sense of a community or ethnic group, and then has a plural form “peoples”.

Because “some” is a quantifier and is used with either mass nouns or plural count nouns to indicate an unspecified number or quantity; “have some milk”; “some roses were still blooming”; "having some friends over

I think you’re going too far. Every grammar question has a clear answer which is to be substantiated grammatically.

Just read the following answer to almost the same question, taken from somewhere, and be Impressed!

{{ *This is a very common mistake; a lot of people think that some must always be followed by a plural noun. This is not true–it is very easy to use a singular noun after some (as we see here).

And you know what? The funny thing is that we all already know this. Think about the words or phrases someday, someone, some year–they all have something in common.
They all refer to a noun that is unidentified, i.e., a noun that we don’t yet know about.

Here’s a very common example:

Some guy called you while you were gone.* }}

That doesn’t mean most speakers of a language know enough grammar to explain it properly, even a language where most speakers are supposed to be literate in it.

But that wouldn’t have been expressed that way: it would have been expressed as “29.2% of people experienced the same form of sleepwalking” and would have proceeded to explicitly describe which form.

Yes. I was mistaken as to the nature of Reza’s misunderstanding.

But I learned something interesting about how English works, so it’s all good.

“Some” can have more than one meaning in this context.

with 29.2 per cent reporting some form of sleepwalking since childhood.

== with 29.2 percent reporting at least one form of sleepwalking since childhood.

with 29.2 percent reporting some forms of sleepwalking since childhood.

== with 29.2 percent reporting more than one form of sleepwalking since childhood.

1 - It’s singular in this sentence. Each single person has only one form, not many forms.

2 - Not every dictionary is unabridged, meaning they don’t all have every word out there (not that this is even possible).

Good explanation. But I don’t think it’s a quirk. We’re talking about individuals here, each of whom might have only one (singular) form out of a group of forms of sleepwalking. A given person is not likely to have more than one form of sleepwalking at the same time, so it’s only one form.