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.
Headquarters is always written with an S (probably) for the same reason we write all of the following with an S:
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.”
But you could also look at it similarly to the way the word accommodations is used.
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
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.