When it comes to grammar errors, misunderstanding words can come from many sources. Sometimes it’s the homonyms that sound and look similar but have very different meanings. At times, it’s the battle of British vs. American English with words that have similar meaning but slightly different spelling. And we also have similar-sounding words that aren’t homonyms but are not often used in casual conversation that it causes people to be confused by the two.
However, some of these misunderstandings can also involve the different rules of the English language – specifically, the many rules of pluralization. Take, for example, the common question on whether academic or college-level writers should use the word “analysis” or “analyses.”
While plenty of ESL students can make a mistake using these two, it’s common for plenty of English-speaking students to make the same mistakes about the two words as well. In truth though, the only difference between these two words is that “analyses” is the plural form of “analysis.” We explore this in today’s Grammar Corner article.
Analysis vs. Analyses
But what happens when you read more than one analysis? Let’s say you and your friend are doing research for a term paper and that involves reading multiple studies. Asking “How many analysis have you read?” is wrong because the word “analysis” refers to only one study. Thus, you have to use the plural form of the word, which is “analyses.”
When to Use Analysis or Analyses
Compared to other similar words tackled in Grammar Corner, this is fairly easy to remember. If you’re referring to one study, you use the word “analysis.” But when you’re referring to multiple studies, you use the term “analyses.”
For example, if you and your classmates are assigned to read a case study for class, and you show up to class the next day realizing you forgot to read it, you can ask your classmate, “Have you read the analysis?” to see if they can give you a brief summary of what they’ve read.
But if the teacher assigns you to read multiple case studies, the correct sentence would be, “Have you read any of the analyses?” Or, if you’re writing your own study and used similar studies in the past as references, you could write that your sources were “based on multiple analyses.” Studies usually require multiple other studies to provide solid evidence; if you say “analysis,” you’re literally saying your study only has one academic source as proof, which doesn’t hold a lot of credibility in the academe.
The Uncommon Rules of Singular and Plural Nouns
Most nouns follow the “noun + ‘s’” rule when converting the singular to plural. So when we see multiple cars, we call it “cars.” We’re also familiar with special rules on singular and plural nouns, such as the way the plural of “mouse” is “mice,” or “goose” is “geese,” or how some nouns are count nouns and can only be plural if made into a group, such as a cup of water or a loaf of bread.
When it comes to analysis and analyses, the rule of making “analysis” plural is to simply change the ‘i’ to ‘e’. The word analysis comes from Greek origins, which is why it doesn’t follow the popular format of adding an –s or –es at the end.
“Analysis” isn’t the only word that changes a letter. Words like “man” and “woman” become “men” and “women,” but most people aren’t confused by this because these are words used in everyday language. Other special plural forms are the way the plural form of “medium” becomes “media”, “alumnus” becomes “alumni,” and “datum” becomes “data.” Because these words have Greek and Latin origins, it doesn’t traditionally fit in with the pluralization rules of the English language.
If you’re an ESL student, your teacher should guide your through special or irregular nouns and how to remember even some of the trickiest words in the English language.
Just like the words “analysis” and “analyses,” some words don’t fall into the standard pluralization rules. While, technically, both words mean the same thing, the number of items that make it singular or plural can be an important piece of information in the context, so they’re not interchangeable.