July 10, 2012
phenomenon (noun)
\fih-NAH-muh-nahn\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : an observable fact or event; especially : a fact, feature, or event of scientific interest2 a : a rare or important fact or event b : an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person or thing
How do you use it?
A sports phenomenon of the twentieth century, Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias was a versatile athlete who excelled in just about any sport you can name.
Are you a word wiz?

It's a "phenomenon" if there's only one, but sometimes there might be several. Which statement about the plural of "phenomenon" is true?

People use both "phenomena" and "phenomenons" when they are talking about more than one phenomenon, so answer B is correct. In general, "phenomena" is used when you are talking about observable facts, objects known through the senses, facts or events of scientific interest, or rare or important events. When you are talking about several exceptional or unusual people or things, though, you might well say something like, "The Hunger Games books are literary phenomenons." But you need to be careful about using "phenomena" as a singular word. People have been doing that for about 400 years, but many teachers and language critics still consider it a mistake.
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