Know your words

Single / Singular

Certain sets of words in the English language tend to confuse writers. I have found the following to be among them:


These words are sometimes confused, most notably when the word singular is used to mean single. The adjective single means one in number while the adjective singular describes something or someone who is unusual, out of the ordinary, and sometimes indicates excellence (he has a singular talent).  

INCORRECT: We only had a singular block party last year, but this year we’ll have two.

CORRECT: We only had a single block party last year, but this year we’ll have two.

INCORRECT: He was holding a singular sock while looking for its mate.

CORRECT: He was holding a single sock while looking for its mate.

NOTE: To say he held one single sock would be redundant. Since the word single means one in number, the word one is unnecessary here.

© 2017 Ann Henry, all rights reserved.

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