Hair vs hairs: Countable and Uncountable Noun

Hair vs Hairs in English!

What’s the difference between hair and hairs? Can we use hairs in a sentence? Is hair a singular noun or a plural noun? Is it correct to use hairs? Let’s find out together!

Some of the traditional linguists believe that hair is a singular uncountable noun. It is one of the most befuddling concepts in grammar. Before getting into the skin of the concept, let us all understand that what kind of noun hair is.

Hair can be categorized into two kinds: Common noun and Material noun.

Why is hair a common noun?

Noun names which create a class are basically called a common noun.

Almost every creature on this planet has hair on their body somewhere: humans have hair, dogs have hair, cats have hair, and like this, every other creature has hair on their body. So, identifying whose hair we are talking about without mentioning that creature’s name is impossible and paradoxical.

The hair on different parts on the body are given different proper name:

The hair on the chin and lower chin: Beard.
Hair grew on upper lip: Moustache.

With this reasoning, we can call it a common noun.

Why is hair a material noun?

A material noun is the name of the material of which something is made up of. Everything that has a physical existence is made up of some materials.

Examples – wood, cotton, milk, iron, plastic, gold, sand, etc.

It is called a material noun since a lot of things are made up of hair. Here are some examples: woolen sweaters, scarf, broom, artificial pony, etc.

Look at the bottle you drink water from. What is it made up of? Plastic, Iron, or Aluminum, right? If you are loaded, it might be made up of gold. I won’t take this possibility out of the conversation. 😉

Look at other things around you: Fridge, shirts, computer, road, building, cookies, mirror, your mobile phone, the wall of your room. All these things are made of something: Material.

  • Fridge – plastic, iron etc.
  • Shirts – cotton, wool, etc.
  • Computer – plastic, iron, etc.
  • Road – cement, sand, water, etc.
  • Building – bricks, sand, cement, iron, glass, etc.
  • Cookies – milk, sugar, water, chocolate, etc.
  • Mirror – glass
  • Phone – plastic, iron, silver, etc.

Now let’s see hair vs hairs contest.

Can we use hairs?

We can use both hair and hairs but in certain contexts.

When you want to use hairs, you should be talking about individual strands of hair.

Here are some of the examples:

  1. My tea has 3 gray hairs in it. (Individual strands)
  2. His white hairs are clearly seen.

Use hair when you want to refer a collection of hair as a mass. It is, therefore, used as a collective noun here.

Examples:

1. I just washed my hair.
2. Your hair is looking beautiful.
3. My mother’s hair is turning white.

In the above sentence, hair is used as an uncountable collection of strands of hair as a mass.

Conclusion

Though HAIR is the standard word used around the world as a common noun referring to a collection of hair (individual strands), HAIRS can be used in certain contexts when referring to a specific number of strands of hair. However, if you feel doing that might put you in a difficult spot or can get your numbers cut, avoid using it.

You might find the answers of this question on stackExchange and Quora useful!

I hope hair vs hairs was a fun and learning experience. Feel free to correct any typos if you see one. Feel free to empower others by sharing this informative post with them. As someone said, “the best way to empower people is to educate them.”

Keep learning! See you guys in a different post! Class dismissed! 😉

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