Friday, December 14, 2007

Learning about Plural

Caleb's teacher had a worksheet for him about plural and singular nouns. No big deal. Except the instructions.

"Circle the plural or singular word that describes the picture."

So the first picture had three cats in it, and Caleb drew an arrow from one cat to the word cat (We were working on Word, so he used Word Draw). I said, "It's important to follow the directions." So he circled the word cat. I tried several times to explain by rephrasing the instructions, and it was clear he had no idea what I was talking about. Both words described the picture. There was one cat, there was another cat, so we have cats.

Finally I said, "Circle the word that makes the best caption for this whole picture."

THEN he got it. Had to speak on his level, I guess.

So then Anda was pondering singular and plural, and she said, "If we have zero, we have no toys. Toys." I had never thought of that before. ONE is singular. Both zero and and two are plural linguistically. I don't know how you handle that mathematically, or if you even have to. So now I'm mulling over plurals--we might have half a cat (hopefully not, but linguistically acceptable), but do we have .5 cats? It's the same amount. Do you have three-quarters of a pizza, 75% of a pizza, and .75 pizzas? How bizzare that fractional amounts are singular, but the equivalent decimal amount is plural in everyday usage. Now I'll have to go look up the rule on that one.

Leave it to a four year old to confuse an English teacher!

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