Inspired by Gaeta's study of morphological distinctiveness as the basis for category formation, this article considers the possibility that by virtue of their invariable suffix -ings English pluralia tantum nominal gerunds (PTNGs) such as surroundings can be regarded as a subcategory of nominal gerunds. It is shown that the set of PTNGs is semantically very disparate with regard to the verb that underwent nominalization in the course of their formation. Differences are observed in a very large corpus with regard to the quantifiers and other items that co-occur with PTNGs, namely quantifiers regularly associated with plural count (e.g. many) or with mass nouns (e.g. much), but there is too much variability among PTNGs for the totality of them to be a candidate for category status.
- Count nouns
- Mass nouns
- Morphological distinctiveness
- Nominal gerunds
- Pluralia tantum