Noun “means” (use and grammar)

Noun means is both in plural and singular, don’t let the ending -s fool you. Here are some examples.

  • It the 19th century a new means of communication was developed – the railway. (Swan)
  • There are several means of transport on the island. (Swan)
  • For some artists, the internet is a means of exploring and highlighting how digital technologies shape our lives. (BBC News)
  • Sustainable development won’t happen without the means to implement it (The Guardian)

As you can see, means functions as a singular and plural noun while always keeping the -s. It’s always means.

Grammatical use of the word 'means'
Grammatical use of the word ‘means’

Some other nouns with plural same as singular

Means is not the only that has the same singular and plural form. The same common ones are: barracks, crossroads, headquarters, series, species, works (when it means factory), Swiss.

The use of by all / any / no means

The phrase by all means is used to say that it’s OK to do something, to permit an action. The expression by no means has the opposite meaning.

  • Study: Why Tobacco Smoking Is by no Means a Healthier Option (Empire State Tribune) – there is no way that smoking is a healthier option, it is absolutely ridiculous to even consider that.
  • By all means, we need to have this discussion. (Washington Times) – of course we need to have this discussion, I root for this discussion to happen.
  • By all means grab a weekend away (or several) and take advantage of a fantastic deal (…). (Telegraph) – you really should  have a weekend away by taking the deal if you can.

Bibliography: Swan; referenced sources.

We wrote about collective nouns as well.

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Romeo Mlinar

Languagebits.com Author

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