Phenomenon vs Phenomena
The difference between phenomenon and phenomena lies in the fact that the word phenomena is the plural of phenomenon. Phenomena are special events that we can witness with our senses. Sometimes, an event occurring in nature that can be observed with our eyes are referred to as a phenomenon. Thunderstorm, lightening, tornado, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. are described as phenomena as the plural of the word phenomenon is phenomena. Since the plural form of phenomenon is different from the normal plural forms of the English language, many people tend to have trouble identifying a difference between the two words. In this article, we will discuss more about each term, phenomenon and phenomena. That will help to identify each term without a trouble in the future.
What does Phenomenon mean?
Phenomenon means some kind of an event that we can experience with our sense. This is not a word used to refer to just any event. Rather the word phenomenon is used to refer to events that have some kind of a specialty and are not ordinary. Have a look at the following sentences.
As we watched the tornado, our hearts were filled with excitement as we were a part of a phenomenon.
The scientist watched the biological phenomenon with wonder.
In both of the examples given above, the word phenomenon is used to indicate some kind of a special event that we can experience with our senses. A tornado is not a daily occurrence. Also, this particular biological activity the scientist is observing must also be something special as he has used the word phenomenon to describe the event.
What do Phenomena mean?
Phenomena is the plural of the phenomenon as is the case with many English words having Greek or Latin roots. There are many other words that have the same plurals ending with ‘a,’ such as media, criteria for criterion, and data. The singular form of data is datum. However, this word data, though it is a plural noun, is used as both a singular and a plural noun.
Whenever there is an instance of a natural event taking place at a particular place, it is the word phenomenon that is used. One cannot add ‘s’ to refer to such an event taking place at several places, and the thing to remember is that there is no word in English called phenomenons.
Adding a ‘s’ to phenomena is equally wrong because the word phenomena is already plural, and one cannot add ‘s’ to something that is already in plural form. Can you add ‘s’ to fish when you are talking about a number of fish to make it plural? Thus, it is clear that the word to be used is phenomenon when you are talking about an isolated incident while the word phenomena is to be used when you are talking about several events taking place that are similar. Thus, there is this phenomenon and these phenomena. Some people make the mistake of saying ‘this phenomena’ as it looks like a singular noun. That is completely wrong as phenomena is a plural noun, and it should be ‘these phenomena’ and not ‘this phenomena.’
What is the difference between Phenomenon and Phenomena?
• Any extraordinary event that can be experienced with our senses is called a phenomenon.
• Phenomena also carry the same meaning as phenomenon.
• The word phenomena is the plural form of the word phenomenon.
• Traditions Followed:
• Phenomenon has Greek and Latin roots.
• The word Phenomena follows the tradition of making a plural by adding ‘a’ at the end of the word having Latin or Greek roots such as media, criteria, etc.
• If there are several natural events taking place in a place, one should not add a ‘s’ to the word phenomenon to make a plural, and there is no such word as phenomenons in English language.
The problem of confusing phenomenon and phenomena occurs because people are not familiar with the plural form of Latin or Greek rooted words. Once a person understands that the word phenomena is plural, and it has been made plural by adding an ‘a’ instead of ‘s,’ the confusion goes away. Since there is no change in the meaning whether singular or plural, we just have to identify which is singular and which is plural.
- Tornado via Pixabay (Public Domain)
- A 22° halo around the moon in Atherton, CA via Wikicommons (Public Domain)