The English language can get confusing, even for native speakers. And even what we think to be the less complicated parts of its grammar, like singular and plural nouns, can be confusing. Take ‘material,’ for example. Is the plural form of the word ‘material’ or ‘materials?’ Let’s explore and see.
Material or Materials – What is The Plural of ‘Material?’
‘Material’ and ‘materials’ both act as the plural of ‘material.’ We use ‘material’ when we refer to abstract, uncountable ideas like ‘all of the reading material.’ On the other hand, we use ‘materials’ to refer to countable, concrete nouns like ‘complete building materials.’
‘Material,’ in general, almost always acts as a noun. What differs is the type of noun it refers to in the sentence. If the noun is more abstract or is uncountable, like a group of ideas, we use ‘material.’ On the other hand, for concrete, countable nouns like tools to build something, we use ‘materials.’
When Should I Use ‘Material?’
We use ‘material’ as a plural noun when referring to ‘material’ as an abstract, uncountable noun, a group of ideas, facts, data, or thoughts. For example, we say ‘all the material for the presentation’ because ‘material’ here refers to a group of ideas needed for the report.
In this sense, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘material’ means ‘information used when writing something such as a book, or information produced to help people or to advertise products.’
Below are examples of how to use ‘material’ in a sentence.
- Do you have a copy of the reading material our professor posted yesterday?
- I have all the material I need to write my next article.
- The director asked for another filming day due to a lack of material for the final movie.
- This document contains classified material, so handle it with confidentiality.
- Do we have all the material needed for our presentation?
- We need more advertising material for our product to sell to more customers.
- We have good material for the report, but we need to organize it.
When Should I Use ‘Materials?’
We use ‘materials’ as a plural noun when referring to ‘material’ as a concrete, countable noun or physical objects one can create something with. For example, we say ‘have writing materials’ because ‘materials’ here refer to physical things we can write with, like pens and pencils.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘materials’ means ‘a physical substance that things can be made from’ and ‘equipment that you need for a particular activity.’
However, it is essential to note that the aforementioned is applicable to almost all except clothing. For clothing, we only use ‘material’ to describe the type of fabric or clothing clothes has. So, for example, we say ‘spandex material’ and not ‘spandex materials.’
Below are examples of how to use ‘materials’ in a sentence.
- The team needs new building materials for the renovation.
- Why do you have so many writing materials when we only need a pen?
- Organic materials are healthy for the soil’s enrichment.
- The price of raw materials is on the hike again.
- Given that we only had limited materials, I think we did great.
- The only cooking materials I have at home are the basics and essentials.
- I don’t have enough materials to create a new model for this.
Is ‘Material’ A Countable Or Uncountable Noun?
Material can be a countable or uncountable noun, depending on what it refers to in a sentence. When referring to physical materials, like writing materials, like pens and pencils, ‘material’ becomes countable. On the other hand, when referring to something abstract, like words, ideas, or data, ‘material’ becomes uncountable.
Is ‘Material’ Or ‘Materials’ Used The Most?
According to the Google Ngram Viewer, ‘material’ is used more often than ‘materials.’ This may imply that speakers or writers use ‘material’ more often to refer to clothing or abstract ideas. The physical definition of ‘material’ also has other synonyms like equipment and tools that people may use more often.
Is It ‘Reading Material’ Or ‘Reading Materials?’
‘Reading material’ is the appropriate phrase. It is because ‘reading’ is an action that involves abstract ideas like stories, facts, or data that is not concrete and countable. Thus, we use the application for abstract, uncountable nouns, which is ‘material.’ Whether singular or plural, ‘reading material’ is the proper phrase.
Below are examples of using ‘reading material’ in a sentence.
- Our teacher always gives us reading material to finish over the weekend.
- Did you prepare any reading material for tomorrow’s discussion?
Is It ‘Some Material’ Or ‘Some Materials?’
‘Some materials’ is the appropriate phrase. ‘Some’ is a modifier that adds a sense of amount to the noun, thus making it somehow countable. So, it’s best to use ‘some’ for concrete, countable nouns, which are ‘materials’ in plural form. In using ‘some’ with ‘material,’ we add the preposition ‘of.’
Below are examples of using ‘some material/s’ in a sentence.
- We delivered some materials to the site yesterday.
- Some of the material I have is not part of my article’s scope.
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.