HomeQ&AClothing/ropa singular or plural?

Clothing/ropa singular or plural?

0
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Morning y'all,
I need some help with something that has confused me. Is there a rule that applies to the word ropas in reference to singular or plural use? The majority of time in English, clothes is plural:

The clothes on the floor are dirty.
Las ropas en el piso son sucia.
Or in Spanish is it better translated:
La ropa en el piso está sucia.

Lately, in several things I have read in Spanish, clothes seems to be used more in the singular form. Is there something cultural here that I am missing? Or is it just an article of clothing (ropa) versus several articles of clothing (ropas') Thanks.

Vance

34713 views
updated AGO 24, 2010
posted by Vance-Moore2

6 Answers

0
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Funny, I have never seen or heard "ropas". So a quick dictionary check has "ropa" as a plural noun. Ropa = Clothes.
I have seen "vestidos", for what I understood as "mens clothes". However "vestir" and "vestirse" have more to do with the act of getting dressed.

updated AGO 24, 2010
posted by Daniel
funny how "el vestido" means dress or/ the dress...so what if one wanted to say, los vestidos? - saritamaria, AGO 24, 2010
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Ropa is a bit like fish in English: you can say "there are fish in a pond" to refer to a (rather homogeneous) group of animals, pretty much like "Tengo mucha ropa" refers to the group of clothes you own, considered as being part of a whole. However, you can say fishes to refer to different types of these animals, and you can say ropas to refer to different types, or belonging to different people or sets. I guess we say "ropas" as rarely as you say "fishes", but both are possible.

The same applies to other collective words such as "gente".

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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English...always uses the plural form to refer to a general article of clothing.

I think you meant to say "English always uses the plural form to refer to clothing in general." An article of clothing cannot be called clothes, and must be called a piece/article of clothing (garment, etc.).

The singular (cloth), on the other hand, can only be used to refer to the material from which clothes are made.

Although it's true that clothes does come from the Old English cl'thas, plural of cl'th (cloth), I don't think it has a singular form in modern English. The plural of cloth is cloths.

He used a lot of cloths to wipe the mess off of his clothes.

The dictionary gives no singular for clothes.
Once again, I am reminded that I should consult the OED before submitting a reply.

updated ABR 21, 2009
posted by samdie
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In line with Lazarus' comment, I suspect that one could say "Las ropas indígenas de las regiones de España (o de los países latinoamericanos) son muy variadas." but in the usual sense of "the stuff that someone wears" it would be "la ropa". English, on the other hand, always uses the plural form to refer to a general article of clothing. The singular (cloth), on the other hand, can only be used to refer to the material from which clothes are made.

updated ABR 21, 2009
posted by samdie
0
votes

English...always uses the plural form to refer to a general article of clothing.

I think you meant to say "English always uses the plural form to refer to clothing in general." An article of clothing cannot be called clothes, and must be called a piece/article of clothing (garment, etc.).

The singular (cloth), on the other hand, can only be used to refer to the material from which clothes are made.

Although it's true that clothes does come from the Old English cl'thas, plural of cl'th (cloth), I don't think it has a singular form in modern English. The plural of cloth is cloths.

He used a lot of cloths to wipe the mess off of his clothes.

The dictionary gives no singular for clothes.

updated ABR 21, 2009
posted by 00bacfba
0
votes

Lazarus,
Thanks for the reply. What you stated was pretty much the conclusion I had come to. I used "ropas" in a sentence, then a friend from Bogata correctd me with the singular. After that, I ran across "ropa' in some reading. It may just be tat in my mind I had subconsciousely added the "s." That is what started my question. Thanks again for the reply.

Vance

updated ABR 21, 2009
posted by Vance-Moore2
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