Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Today's exquisite corpse

For background, see this.

Today's is from Patricia O'Connor's "Woe is I."
The ics Files

Figuring out the mathematics of a noun can be tricky. Take the word mathematics. Is it singular or plural? And what about all those other words ending in ics -- economics, ethics, optics, politics, and so on? Fortunately, it doesn't take a Ph.D. in mathematics to solve this puzzle.

If you're using an ics word in a general way (as a branch of study, say), it's singular. If you're using an ics word in a particular way (as someone's set of beliefs, for example), it's plural.

"Politics stinks," said Sonny.
"Sonny's politics stink," said Gopher.
Statistics isn't a very popular course
The company's statistics are often misleading.


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