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.
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.