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5 Following the Media


What's going on in the world today? What are the big news stories in your country? What's happening in your neck of the woods?
What about entertainment? What do people watch on TV, listen to on the radio, read in newspapers and on websites today? Are there any interesting new movies out, or any plays or concerts taking place in your community this week?
How do you get the media's attention if you organize something? How can people find their way to your event? Let's take a look!


Exercise 5.1

Listen to or watch two pieces of national or international news by two different broadcasting companies. Write down the topics of the news items and when you listened to them. Remember to include the links to the news.

Photo: Fotopedia / spiritz


Plural Nouns - Regular Plurals

In general, to make a singular noun a plural, you add -s. For example

a street - streets
a town - towns
a trip - trips
a day - days

We spent many days walking up and down the streets of the small coastal towns. We have taken many trips there.

If the singular noun ends in an s or an s-sound, add -es

a class - classes
a box - boxes
a branch - branches

There were many boxes full of tree branches for all three classes to do crafts.

If the singular noun ends in a consonant + y, the y becomes i and you add -es

a city - cities
an activity - activities
a baby - babies
a hobby - hobbies

All large cities offer some activities for babies - or would you say that babies have hobbies?

Many nouns ending in an o take the -es ending

a potato - potatoes
a tomato - tomatoes
an echo - echoes

Please put potatoes and tomatoes on the shopping list.
These mountains and valleys provide the best echoes.

but some - usually loan words from Latin - don't

a photo - photos
a video - videos
a studio - studios
a piano - pianos

Jenny had been to many studios and played many pianos but this studio had the best grand piano.
She had several photos of her recording sessions but not that many videos.

and some can go either way

a mosquito - mosquitos/mosquitoes
a zero - zeros/zeroes

How many mosquitos/mosquitoes have you seen today? Zero.
How many zeros/zeroes are there in a billion? - Do you mean the American or the European billion?

Nouns ending in an f usually change the f to a v + es

a life - lives
a knife - knives
-self - -selves     (yourself - yourselves)
a shelf - shelves
a leaf - leaves

When the leaves were turning red and yellow, Mary turned over a new leaf in her life.
A knife ended a life. Knives end many lives every year.
Harry fixed the bookshelf himself. The guys offered to build the new shelves themselves.


It is very important to remember that some common nouns are always singular:

the news What are you watching on TV? The news is on.
information The information we got was correct: the late bus doesn't run on Sundays.
mathematics Mathematics is my second favorite subject - after English of course!
furniture Is this furniture new? All the furniture here was bought about a year ago.
luggage Was your luggage insured? We have matching luggage!
baggage How heavy is your baggage? That young man seems to have a lot of baggage.

Photo: Flickr / mksfly

Irregular Plurals

There are many very common nouns that have irregular plurals. The most common ones are probably these:

a man - men What can one man do? We need about a dozen men to get the road fixed.
a woman - women I was the only woman working there. Now they have about 20 women.
a child - children Two of the children had yellow raincoats. One child had no coat at all.
a foot - feet When you walk you say you go there "on foot". How many feet is 180 cm?
a tooth - teeth One of the twins has one tooth and the other has three teeth already.
a person - people (persons) You need to be your own person, even among closed-minded people.
a mouse - mice There may be many regular mice but there is only one Mickey Mouse.
a goose - geese A goose laid a golden egg in a fairytale. Other geese lay regular eggs.

In some words the singular and plural look the same

a sheep - sheep You can't have just one sheep because sheep are flock animals.
a fish - fish Did you know that a group of fish is called a school?
a reindeer - reindeer Rudolph is the best-known reindeer. Real reindeer don't have red noses.
a barracks - barracks The soldiers lived in old barracks. Only one barracks had female soldiers.

Here are some examples of other types of nouns

Nouns ending in -on in the singular form and -a in the plural

a criterion - criteria
a phenomenon - phenomena

Nouns ending in -is in the singular and -es in the plural

an analysis - analyses
a basis - bases
a crisis - crises
a diagnosis - diagnoses
an emphasis - emphases
a hypothesis - hypotheses
an oasis - oases
a parenthesis - parentheses
a thesis - theses

Some so-called foreign nouns keep their original plural form or take the regular plural -s

antenna antennae / antennas
cactus cacti / cactuses
formula formulae / formulas
fungus fungi / funguses
octopus octopi / octopuses

Here are a few more good nouns to remember:

focus foci
larva larvae
nucleus nuclei
radius radii
stimulus stimuli
syllabus syllabi
vertebra vertebrae

You can practice using plural nouns for example at these websites:

Grammar - Quizzes


Exercise 5.2

My new community: local news and events

Part A – Listening Comprehension: Watch some news clips of the local news of the town you chose as your location in Lesson 1. Then glance at that town's/city's local newspaper to see what is going on and what events might be coming up. If you are unable to identify any TV stations or newspapers from your choice of location, you can use one of the videos at this local news website Cape Cod Times or take a look at this local newspaper Birmingham Post.

Part B – Oral Skills: Make a recording and tell about an upcoming event – what event, times, location, for whom, tickets (where they are sold and for how much or if they are free). It can be a real event or you can create an imaginary one.

Remember to use the future tense! The recording should be 1-2 minutes long. Submit your audio file (wma / mp3) below.

Exercise 5.3

What’s Popular on TV These Days?

Check some listings for this week’s TV programs in online TV guides, newspapers or TV stations in your new community. Is there anything that you’d like to watch? What are some popular programs these days? Why do you think they are popular?

The length of your text should be about 150 words. Submit the text below.


Exercise 5.4

Place these words in their correct form (singular or plural) in the sentences below. There are three extra words on the list!

baby information news
city knowledge oasis
class leaf photo
foot life time
furniture luggage tooth
hobby mathematics zero


Dave got new  for his birthday because the zipper on his suitcase was broken.

He travels on business to many European  every year. He doesn’t have much time for his .

My cousin had some big : she’s going to have twins! Two  will be a lot of work.

They will be taking lots of  in the twins’ first years: when they get their first , when they get up on their little … their  will be well-documented. They will have to get two beds and some other pieces of .

Do you have any  on the French and Spanish  next spring?

How many  are there in a trillion? You’ll know if you take a  course.

Streets can be slippery in the autumn when  are falling from the trees.

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