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Why is 'headquarters' always plural?



 
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Why is 'headquarters' always plural? #1 (permalink) Sat Jun 17, 2006 14:35 pm   Why is 'headquarters' always plural?
 

Hello my friends, does anyone of you happen to know why the word headquarters does not have a singular form? Yesterday one a German asked me that question and told him I would turn to you to find the answer.

Thanks in advance,
Torsten

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Why is 'headquarters' always plural? #2 (permalink) Sat Jun 17, 2006 16:32 pm   Why is 'headquarters' always plural?
 

Hi Torsten

Headquarters is always written with an S (probably) for the same reason we write all of the following with an S:
- living quarters
- sleeping quarters
- bachelor quarters
- general quarters
- close quarters

Unfortunately, I don't know why any of those are written with an S either. 8)

Maybe somebody else will know...

I've often told my students to think of the "quarters" in headquarters in the same sense as "offices" since the headquarters of a company is a place with a lot of offices. But that doesn't always work well since there is also the expression "head office." :cry:

But you could also look at it similarly to the way the word accommodations is used.

Amy
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Why is 'headquarters' always plural? #3 (permalink) Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:59 am   Why is 'headquarters' always plural?
 

Quote:
accommodations

and barracks? :)
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Headquarters... #4 (permalink) Fri Jun 23, 2006 19:47 pm   Headquarters...
 

I think, accommodation is more often used than accommodations. But barracks is similar to headquarters although you would not say a headquarters but you do say a baracks as well as a crossroads.

I'm quite sure there some type of pattern here...

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Why is 'headquarters' always plural? #5 (permalink) Fri Jun 23, 2006 21:33 pm   Why is 'headquarters' always plural?
 

Hi Torsten

I think accommodations is probably used less often in British English than in American English when you're talking about your lodgings. :lol:

But I'm also very curious about a possible explanation of why headquarters is always plural. I get this question on a regular basis and I've never been able to provide a "good" explanation.

Amy
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Headquarters... #6 (permalink) Sat Jun 24, 2006 16:50 pm   Headquarters...
 

My diictionary gives just following examples of words of the kind - formally plural but used as singular (some are uncountable):
barracks, crossroads, headquarters, means, news, oats, series, species, works
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Why is 'headquarters' always plural? #7 (permalink) Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:36 am   Why is 'headquarters' always plural?
 

Quote:
barracks, crossroads, headquarters, means, news, oats, series, species, works


Hi Pamela

The words you've listed have additional differences. Although they all end with an S and are seen as single things, the usage of the verb isn't always singular. For example, news is always used with a singular verb, but headquarters can take either a singular or plural verb.

To talk about the place where a company's main offices are, you'd usually hear the plural verb:
"The headquarters are located in New York."

You'd be more likely to hear 'headquarters' used with a singular verb when referring to what the people who work there do (at least in AmE :lol:):
"Headquarters is pressuring us to reduce costs."

Barracks, means and works are also used with both singular and plural forms of a verb.

Amy
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Methinks it's #8 (permalink) Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:16 am   Methinks it's
 

from dictionary.com

quarters

n : housing available for people to live in; "he found quarters for his family"; "I visited his bachelor quarters" [syn: living quarters]

so if headquarters is a compound word built of head and quarters, it denotes the main place that is described by the word, "quarters" meaning housing, but is not necessarily more than one place.
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