In the word penultimate, the prefix pen means almost. Thus, penultimate means “almost ultimate,” specifically, next to last. Ultimate is the last; it often has the positive connotation of also being the best.
“I was in the penultimate place in the race!” seems like an achievement unless you know that only two people were racing.
Who wants to own the penultimate driving machine? Give me a BMW!
Her outfit was the ultimate in fashion.
A plethora is not just a large number. The word has a negative connotation and indicates excess or overabundance.
I asked him to get enough cookies for the group, but he brought a plethora of provisions.
A plethora of complaints followed his announcement of the involuntary furloughs.
We received a large number of compliments on the packaging.
We received many compliments on the packaging.
To understand the following examples of commonly mistaken singulars and plurals, you need to know one little thing about many words in Latin and Greek: The plural is formed by changing the ending to the letter a. Thus, the following sets of singular and plural nouns is correct:
The plural forms take plural pronouns and plural verbs.
Thinking that the eclipse was a unique phenomenon, the ancients did not realize that they were witnessing one of many cosmic phenomena.
Judging strictly by the criterion of speed, the horse was the best in its class; however, when all the criteria were considered together, it fell to third place in the competition.
A single datum does not constitute a trend; when many pieces of data together point to the same conclusion, we can legitimately make assumptions about their truth.
Newspapers are only one medium of mass communication; the many media available to consumers today give numerous options for learning new information.
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