Why is "bird" singular in this case?

3

everyone. I'm revising English and I've come across one thing I can't understand. In my grammar book (English Grammar in Use) there are examples of nouns that can be singular or plural. The thing is that I don't understand why in this example "a species of bird - 200 species of bird" in the last phrase "bird" is not plural?

Thanks in advance, Anna.

Anna Sevastyanova

Posted 2018-08-03T15:22:19.883

Reputation: 55

5Many visitors to this site believe that English could do with a revision. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-08-03T15:36:35.450

Answers

1

This is quite similar to this question which asks if "types of fish" or "types of fishes" is correct. My conclusion was that both are acceptable.

In the case of birds too, it would seem that neither is incorrect. Although I'm not a huge fan of Ngrams, this one does at least show that both are steadily in use, although these is a clear bias towards the plural "species of birds". Looking at a sampling of the books using these terms though there appear to be scholarly works using either "bird" or "birds".

For example, the book "Conserving Bird Biodiversity" published by the Cambridge University Press and partially credited to the Zoological Society of London says:

In its latest assessment, BirdLife International describes 1,186 species of bird that are currently threatened with extinction worldwide.

And who are we to argue with the Zoological Society of London? :)

Astralbee

Posted 2018-08-03T15:22:19.883

Reputation: 41 381

1

Species can be singular or plural:

The robin is a species of bird. The starling is a species of bird. The sparrow is a species of bird.

Starlings and sparrows are species of birds.

A type of song is [whatever] Types of songs are [whatever]

species in the dictionary

Lambie

Posted 2018-08-03T15:22:19.883

Reputation: 26 929

Do you imply that Starlings and sparrows are species of bird would be incorrect? – Michael Login – 2018-08-03T20:53:41.553

starlings are a species of bird. Sparrows are a species of bird. Starlings and sparrows are species of birds. – Lambie – 2018-08-03T22:05:19.253

In its latest assessment, BirdLife International describes 1,186 species of bird that are currently threatened with extinction worldwide. ??? – Michael Login – 2018-08-04T10:05:56.143

species of bird is a relatively infrequent usage, mainly by ornithologists. They may know more about birds than they do about words. Bird is a class there. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-08-04T19:53:52.073