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Politics

As a term for the art or science of governing or for the activities and methods of seeking political office, the noun politics may be either plural or singular. Writers of this century more often treat it as singular—e.g., “Politics is a dirty game”—but when the word is shorthand for political beliefs, it’s usually plural—e.g., “His politics are not aligned with any party platform.”

Politics is not the only plural noun form that conventionally takes a singular verb in most uses. Many names for fields of study, especially ones that end in -ics, are treated this way—for example, economics, mathematics, physics. Several names of countries, such as the United States and the Netherlands, have plural forms but take singular verbs. And there are many nouns that resemble plurals but have always been singular—for example, summonsseriesspeciesbiceps, scissors.

Examples

In these examples, politics means political beliefs, so it’s plural:


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Giving free concerts for baby wards and anti-nuclear protesters is what you might expect from a man whose politics are Left-Green. [Telegraph]

Her politics have always been basic. [Alaska Dispatch]

But Bonjean … is quick to point out that his politics are not cut and dried. [Edmonton Journal]

And these writers use politics in the more general sense, so the word is singular:

Politics is unforgiving, so look for a scapegoat. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Politics often plays catch-up to these genres. [Globe and Mail]

British politics is marked by this anti-intellectualism. [The Economist]

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Comments

  1. Don’t you say: Where ARE my scissors? and thus scissors is a plural word.

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