Phenomena, phenomenon

Phenomenon is singular. Phenomena is plural. Although many Greek and Latin plurals eventually give way to English forms, phenomena is one of the few that is preserved by convention, and many English speakers consider it the only correct plural. Of course, there would be nothing wrong with the English plural, phenomenons, but it has yet to gain much ground on the traditional plural. 

You might also be interested in the proper plural form of cacti or cactuses.


Both phenomena have garnered a decent amount of coverage over the last year. [Guardian]

I’m talking about the modern phenomenon of the booty call. []

All the above phenomena are due to the continuous increase in liquidity preference. [The Economist]

Lady Gaga did not become a worldwide phenomenon because she’s normal. [Globe and Mail]

3 thoughts on “Phenomena, phenomenon”

  1. Seems as though “indexes” is now an acceptable substitute for “indices”. Same goes for “cactuses” vs. “cacti”. Undoubtedly, there are similar examples I’m overlooking.

    Along the same lines as “blowup” vs. “blow up”, there’s the misuse of “market place” instead of “marketplace”, just to name one.

  2. Can anyone help me? In reference to the white and gold / blue and black dress, someone was asking about all the fuss, and I replied:

    Interesting phenomena, is all.

    Or would it be:

    Interesting phenomenon, is all.

    I am not sure if it’s plural or singular – could be plural in the sense that these optical illusions are interesting, or it could be singular to just talk about the dress.


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