Wondering whether to use 'equipments' or 'equipment'? You're not alone! This article will give you the answer you're looking for.
The quick answer to this question is that the correct form to use is 'equipment'... most of the time.
Read on to find out what I mean by "most of the time."
Whether to use 'equipment' or 'equipments' is one of those controversial topics, like 'log into' vs. 'log in to' vs. 'login to.' It's controversial because you'll find varying answers when you research it online. You'll even find varying answers in reputable dictionaries.
So let's investigate these varying results and get to the bottom of the issue.
First of all, what does plural mean? It's a grammatical concept added to nouns to show that there is more than one.
The most common way to pluralize a noun is to add -s at the end. See the following examples:
Sometimes, you'll see -es added.
Sometimes, you'll even find the 'y' change to -ies:
This is what happens to regular nouns. 'equipment,' however, isn't a regular noun.
'Equipment' is a mass noun (also known as noncount or collective nouns). Mass nouns refer to something that either is not countable or already includes a group of things.
'Equipment,' for example, refers to a set of tools, and not just one. Therefore, it is, in a way, already plural, no matter how you use it.
Mass nouns don't use the conventional pluralization rules. In fact, they don't have pluralization conventions; they simply stay the same.
Here are some other examples of mass nouns:
You can see from the above examples that the nouns include a set of things. Furniture consists of a group of items for your home, and traffic comprises a set of cars.
The items in each group could technically be counted, like the number of cars in traffic, but we don't count them; we refer to them collectively.
That's why it wouldn't make sense to say:
I have two furnitures. ❌
You would say:
I have furniture. ✅
I'll show you more examples of mass nouns. These are a little different since they don't include a set of things; they refer to something that can't be counted.
This is where it gets tricky.
You could perform a search for literature that uses the word 'equipments,' and you would get a large number of results.
Even the Oxford English Dictionary lists a few examples of 'equipments' being used in a sentence (not many, but a few).
But here's the catch. If you investigate further, you'll find that most of these results either stem from old or foreign texts or in a technical context, like hardware or military texts.
It is sometimes also found to refer to two lots of equipment. For example, when speaking about both camping equipment and fishing equipment, some use 'equipments.' Like this:
We must remember to bring both equipments.
Again, this is mainly found in old texts.
So what if you want to use 'equipment' in a sentence? How will you know whether to use the singular form of the verb or the plural?
Simple: always use the singular form with mass nouns. As mentioned before, they're considered to be one set of things.
Here's what it would look like:
The equipment is really heavy.
I don't know where the equipment is; it's disappeared!
'Equipment's' is the possessive form of 'equipment' or the contracted form of 'equipment is' or 'equipment has.'
Not to be confused with the plural! So yes, you can use 'equipment's.' Here are a few examples of what it would look like in a sentence:
Have you checked the frequency of the equipment's use? (possessive)
I'm afraid the equipment's disappeared. (contracted form)
While this article has shown that 'equipments' has been used in the past and on infrequent occasions still gets used today, our preference steers towards using 'equipment' and avoiding 'equipments.'
Besides, my spell checker tries to correct me when I use 'equipments.'
If you did use 'equipments,' it wouldn't technically be wrong, but it would sound off.
I know this is a little confusing, so I recommend sticking with 'equipment.'