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Is "Mathematics" a Singular or Plural Noun?

Updated on April 28, 2017
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The Great Debate About the Word Mathematics

The word 'mathematics' is one we all know and love, but can we all agree on its part of speech? Mathematics. It is a noun, obviously, but is it in the singular or the plural form?

Many just prefer to shorten 'mathematics' to a mere one syllable for convenience. In North America, the word 'math' is used, but the rest of the world uses 'maths'.

So, who is right?

Let's dig a little deeper into the word Mathematics...

Facts About The Word "Mathematics" - The Cold Hard Facts

Weigh the facts before you decide:

  1. Mathematics originally denoted all the mathematical sciences collectively, including geometry, astronomy, optics, etc.
  2. Mathematics originated from the latin mathematica (plural), from the greek from mathematikos (adjective).
  3. People tend to say "mathematics is ____", the "is" being the singular form of the verb "to be", as opposed to the plural form which would say "mathematics are ________".

The Great Mathematic(s) Debate

Is 'mathematics' a singular or plural noun?

It's singular - there is just one.

It's singular - there is just one.

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    • Marishana 8 months ago

      We say mathematics is a science.

      Mathematics are numbers .

      If the word after mathematics is in singular we use is ,but if the word is in plural we use are

    • Someone 18 months ago

      I think the word "mathematics" it's singular when you mean just maths as the subject while "mathematics" as a plural noun should be used as a synonim of "mathematical sciences"

    • HubPages User 2 years ago

      It is primarily a singular collective noun. Those holding onto the Latin origin have not evolved into the vernacular colloquialism currently utilized in the modern world. Many of our [English] words are rooted in other languages (Latin, Greek, etc.) but are nothing like the originals, and it would (literally) be backwards to use its past usage and/or spelling to convey its meaning in the language of today.

    • Lorenzo quilidro 2 years ago

      Plural in form but singular in meaning

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Mathematics IS fun. Maths IS fun.

      NOT

      Mathematics ARE fun. Maths ARE fun.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      It's obviously plural.

    • marialuizapruna 3 years ago

      Singular

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      It is both singular and plural

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      some words has an ending ''s'' like athletics.you cannot remove the ''s'' because it sounds weird v.v

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Most words ending in -ics (e.g. physics, athletics, mathematics) are normally singular uncountable and have no plural use.

    • John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      Singular, it is a word like herd, school, flock describing a collection of things but the word (despite the "s" on the end ) is singular.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I think it should be considered a collective (group) noun -- regarding a plural thing but used as singular. For example, one would say "The team is going out for pizza," even though you are talking about multiple players who are going out for pizza. Then, you would say "Mathematics is interesting," even though you're talking about multiple scientific subjects (geometry, algebra, calculus, etc.) that are interesting.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Defo singular

    • Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I would say singular. Tricky one though. I can see the other side too.

    • Deb Kingsbury 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've always thought of it as a singular noun, just as the word "group" is singular but its meaning is about more than one. Like "group," mathematics IS a word followed by "is" not "are."

    • Joan Haines 5 years ago

      It is the study of patterns. It is singular. However, i think it's very cool to hear people refer to it as "maths."

    • Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      In modern usage it's singular. Try this out. I'm studying two mathematics. One mathematic is geometry and the other mathematic is trigonometry. Regardless of the origin, nowadays math is math.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Mathematica, -ae, f. is not plural. You obviously do not know Latin.

    • Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      It's all just a piece of Pi to me ...

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Well, grammatically it really annoys me because I think "mathematics" should ALWAYS take a plural verb, but even the OED defines "mathematics" as a "plural noun that usu. takes a singular verb". Yeech. The word is a "collective noun". It only takes a plural verb when referring to, say, "the mathematics of rocket science", etc. Darn. Now I don't know how to pick a choice below. :-/

    It's plural and always has been!

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      • 'Merica 2 years ago

        It's in superposition.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think its plural as MATHEMATICS comes from the word mathematica which is plural ... :)

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        The word "mathematic" has been used, not as an adjectival abbreviation of "mathematical", but as a noun denoting a numerical system in the horse betting stories of Charles Bukowski. I like it as a singular noun for such.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        plural.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I'm really for the plural side, seeing its origin, and purely for the sound of it. Here is a quote from Keith Devlin, a mathematics teacher form Stanford: "When read by a competent performer, the symbols on the printed page come alive: the mathematics lives and breathes in the mind of the reader like some abstract symphony."

        Doesn't the singular form sound really bad here?

      • TeacherSerenia 4 years ago

        I would call it plural.

        Its like sheep - which is both singular and plural - no extra letters to denote the difference

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        maths

      • pkmcr 5 years ago from Cheshire UK

        It's a plural noun which confusingly is often used as if it were a singular.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        OK. Let's count them... One decal I have on my car says "Just do the math!..." This one does not help, but if you think about it. Can you "do" more than one math at a time!" Probably not... So we have one here.

        A Calculus text says... well... Calculus. That's plural!..

        That's good enough for me. (1) math + (many) calculus(es) that's = Plural...

        Enough said.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        all of you are dull.....it is plural math is the singular....mathematics are the plural...like child and children....

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        maths

      • The-Bard 8 years ago

        Clearly plural as difined by the OED:

        Mathematic: c.1380 as singular, replaced by early 17c. by mathematics (1581), from L. mathematica (pl.), from Gk. mathematike tekhne "mathematical science," fem. sing. of mathematikos (adj.) "relating to mathematics, scientific," from mathema (gen. mathematos) "science, knowledge, mathematical knowledge"

        PS: I don't respond to Monkeybrain lenses - but I've made an exception in this case. Well done for creating it - nevertheless!

      • fluffanutta 8 years ago from UK

        Mathematics is plural, but just like trousers or pants you can't have 1.

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      Reader Poll

      Statistics are math, so I think a few statistics on the issue of mathematics is only fitting:

      Is "mathematics" a singular or plural noun?

      See results

      An In Depth Look at Mathematic(s) Issue

      This is a well done breakdown of the word origin and uses through history that help to indicate its part of speech.

      England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

      --George Bernard Shaw

      Which is correct? 'math' or 'maths'?

      Shortening of the word mathematics has been done on both sides of the Atlantic. Americans go to Math Class while Brits attend Maths Class. Does this give us any answers at all to our big question? Which is correct? 'math' or 'maths'?

      Which is correct? Math or Maths?

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        • John Dyhouse profile image

          John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

          Well this definitely ignited some debate. I will never agree that it is plural though. Great fun, let us know when you have a definitive answer.

        • hlkljgk profile image

          hlkljgk 5 years ago from Western Mass

          i never thought about this before. :)

        • evelynsaenz1 profile image

          Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

          The word math with an s on the end is just one more key word to add to a delightful lens about mathematics! :)

          Squid Angel Blessed!

        • Ramkitten2000 profile image

          Deb Kingsbury 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

          Good question! I used to see people use the word "maths" and immediately think they were grammatically incorrect. Now I'm not so sure. I do believe that may be a cultural difference. But when it comes to "mathematics," I stand firm on my belief that it's a singular noun to be followed by "is" not "are."

        • Joan Haines profile image

          Joan Haines 5 years ago

          What a fun topic(s)!

        • jimmielanley profile image

          Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

          What fun!

        • drifter0658 lm profile image

          drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

          I love it when a lens comes together.

          Well done!

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