Is it just us, or does “feedbacks” sound a little weird? If you’ve thought the same thing, you may be doubting your knowledge on what the proper plural form of this word is.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the plural form of the word “feedback.”
Feedback or Feedbacks – What’s the Plural of Feedback?
The plural form of “feedback” is “feedback.” This is because “feedback” is a mass “uncountable” noun that has no plural form. You cannot count the number “feedbacks” there are, only how much “feedback” there is. Therefore, “feedbacks” is an incorrect plural form.
To better understand this, we need to get a little technical, so let’s pop on over to the Oxford Dictionary Lexico and its explanation of “countable” and “uncountable” nouns. Thankfully, it’s actually quite simple: a countable noun refers to something you can, well, count. For example, think chairs, eggs, or cans.
On the other hand, an uncountable noun refers to something that is not quantifiable by number. For instance, if you get angry about something, can you count how many “angers” you have? Could you say that you have two or three angers? No, you would measure anger by how much it is, not by how many.
“Feedback” is an uncountable noun. You don’t say that you have “two feedbacks.” Instead, you would specify how much feedback you have. You may have “a lot of feedback” or “a little feedback.”
According to Merriam-Webster, feedback is “the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source.”
In other words, it’s evaluation provided to you by other people after you do or say something. Imagine that you make a movie, and you show it to your friends. Afterward, your friends tell you what they think about it. That’s feedback.
This is also when you would use it in a sentence: when referring to evaluative information provided to you by other people. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how to properly use it:
- The cheers and claps of the crowd are positive feedback for the band that is playing.
- I received some feedback on my performance from my theater teacher.
- James received a few pieces of feedback from his coach and teammates after the game.
- I would prefer to have negative feedback than no feedback at all.
- A lot of positive and negative feedback will help us make this app the best it can be.
As you may have noticed in these sentences, feedback is never quantified by an exact number, though it is acceptable to describe feedback in a general sense of how much or little it is. You can say there is “a lot of” or “a little bit” of feedback, and you can even say “there are several pieces of” feedback.
But you can never say that you have a specific number of “feedbacks.” That will always be incorrect.
OK, so “feedbacks” is not the correct plural form of feedback. But is there any situation in which it is appropriate to say “feedbacks?” It’s a little convoluted, but in short, no. You see, feedback is a mass noun, but it can also be used as a verb in some cases.
However, even as a verb, you wouldn’t say “feedbacks.” You would say that someone provides or gives feedback. Let’s look at some examples:
- Incorrect: Jim feedbacks the performance of his coworker.
- Correct: Jim provides feedback for the performance of his coworker.
There are ways to use feedback as a verb, but only as a past or present participle, such as in the following examples:
- Past: The employees feedbacked their boss with a surprising amount of brevity and honesty.
- Present: The role of feedbacking the committee’s plan for the festival fell to us today.
It is not objectively incorrect to use the word feedback in this manner. However, it is worth noting that that vast majority of people would find this to be unnatural, and would generally word these sentences in the following manner:
- The employees provided feedback to their boss with a surprising amount of brevity and honesty.
- The role of giving feedback on the committee’s plan for the festival falls to us today.
Regardless, there is no situation in which you would say “feedbacks,” be it as a verb or a noun.
Feedback Is or Feedback Are?
We’ve established the proper plural form of the word feedback, so we should probably talk about “is” and “are.” You probably already know that singular nouns should be followed up with “is” and plural nouns should be followed up with “are.” But is this true for a mass uncountable noun like feedback?
In most cases, you would say “feedback is.” This is because mass nouns are technically singular: there may be many things in a mass, but a mass is just one single thing. For instance, water is an uncountable mass noun as well, and you would always say “water is,” not “water are.” For example:
- Correct: Feedback is very useful for determining how well we are doing.
- Incorrect: Feedback are very useful for determining how well we are doing.
Likewise, feedback should be treated as a single noun when it comes to “have/has” and “this/these” as well. It would always be “feedback has” and “this feedback.” Some examples are below:
- Correct: This feedback has been very valuable to our process.
- Incorrect: These feedback have been very valuable to our process.
There is only one situation where you would correctly say “feedback are,” and that is when “feedback” is one of several nouns in your sentence. For example:
- Both money and feedback are crucial to our success.
It is acceptable to say “feedback are” in this case, but only because the sentence involves two nouns (money and feedback) and thus subject-verb agreement is correct in such a case.
The correct plural form of feedback is “feedback,” not feedbacks, because “feedback” is a mass uncountable noun, which is singular. It cannot be quantified by an objective number and is only estimated by how much or how little there is, so the plural form is always “feedback.”
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.