Most people don’t think of it too deeply, but you should know that there is a subtle difference between the word “accommodation” and “accommodations.” While one is plural and the other is singular, it’s important to understand the other differences about them.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, accommodation simply means a place to live. The type of accommodation is likely to vary depending on various factors, such as the location and the size of the place.
Accommodations, on the other hand, are simply then places to live. It could be a group of rooms as well. It’s pretty basic at the end of the day, but there are a few important things that you need to understand about it.
It’s an Uncountable Plural
When comparing accommodation vs. accommodations, one of the first things that you should know is that the word itself is considered an uncountable plural. For instance, you can never say “4 or 5 accommodations.”
Think of it in a similar vein as the word “pants.”
You can never say I have “2 pants.” Instead, you will always say that you have “two pairs of pants.” The same goes for accommodations. You can’t write “3 accommodations.” Instead, you will write “accommodations for three.”
It is used colloquially to describe your house, your room, or just the state that you live in. For example, a camper on the mountains might say that they have “decent accommodation.” This would mean a comfortable camp that meets their needs.
Difference in Meaning
There’s also a slight difference in the meaning apart from the fact that they are singular and plural words. Think of accommodations as lodgings, that is, where you live. On the other hand, accommodations can also be things that meet a specific need.
For instance, one could say “I’m making accommodations for you.” This means they are going to prepare for your arrival and make sure that your needs are met. It’s a subtle difference but one that exists nonetheless.
Accommodation is a noun in itself, and the verb used for it is “accommodating.” Ultimately, this means to make adjustments as needed. As soon as you add an “s” at the end, the word’s meaning changes to lodgings.
For instance, you might accommodate your guests by offering them a vegetarian meal. On the other hand, your guests will prefer staying the night in accommodations that you have arranged for them separately.
The meaning usually differs slightly.
Dropping the Word
Because it is used to denote such a common thing, many people prefer dropping the word altogether and just using the core subtext in their sentence. For instance, since it’s not a countable noun, you could just drop it and say “two rooms” instead.
Rooms is a countable noun and sounds much better than accommodation when used in a sentence after a numerical value. Accommodation has been used as a formal word to talk about hotel rooms and lodgings. Only recently, it has now begun to be used for meeting the inconvenience of the language since there is no single term to denote house or flat.
This description was given in a book written by Henry Fowler. It was entitled Modern English Usage, and was published in 1962. Fowler was an English schoolmaster who wrote extensively about the use of English and how it had evolved with the passage of time.
If you want, you can altogether drop the usage of the word and just specify what you are referring to directly in the sentence.
American English Versus British
Another thing that you need to take into account is the difference between American and British English. American English almost always uses the plural of the word. It doesn’t matter if the reference is singular, it still uses the plural of the word.
On the other hand, British English almost always refers to the singular form of the word, even when the reference used in the sentence is actually plural. For instance, American English usually refers to it like this: “Accommodations have been made for your arrival, sir.”
This simply means that a room has been arranged for the person in question. However, in British English, this would be written as: “Suitable accommodation has been prepared for your arrival, sir.”
Because it is an uncountable noun, one can’t write “all accommodations…” since that does not sound well at all. It sounds odd, although it can be disputed that the expression is justified grammatically.
Resemblance with Other Uncountable Nouns
For those who don’t know, there are plenty of other uncountable nouns in the English language. Here are a few that you should know:
The word “accommodation” cannot be used in a similar vein as these. Instead, its resemblance is most closely tied to nouns such as “humor” or “greed.” Again, these are not quantifiable, but you get the picture.
More importantly, you should know that accommodation can never be preceded by “an.” One can use “the,” but you won’t see “an” being used before it. You simply can’t write “an accommodation has been made…” It just doesn’t sound right.
On the other hand, you can say “less accommodation” or “much accommodation.” However, you won’t find people writing “fewer accommodation” or “many accommodation” as those are not grammatically justifiable statements.
Used as a Subject or Clause
When the word is used as a subject or a clause, you should know that it must always be considered as a singular subject. As a result, the verb used must be conjugated in a similar manner. For instance, the following sentence will be considered wrong: “the accommodation are gorgeous villas beside the hills.”
It might have been referring to multiple villas that will be used as the subject, but the number of entities does not matter. Instead, the correct sentence would be: “the accommodation is gorgeous villas beside the hills.” It may seem odd when read the first time, but it makes perfect grammatical sense.
Remember, it’s always less awkward when one writes some things as one, instead of writing one thing as many. It’s an important grammatical contradiction that needs to be avoided at all costs.
As you can imagine, there is a great deal of conflicting information available on the web about the use of the term. However, the best way to figure out how to use it correctly in a sentence is to go through a few English books.
There are plenty of official guides that you can refer to, thus making it easy for you to determine the best way to write it. If you have an English teacher or someone with a degree in the language, you can also approach them.
While there is considerable debate between the use of the two terms, it’s important to understand that you should write what feels natural and right to you. The best way to do that is by reading. Reading is an excellent hobby that is not only going to make you a better writer, but your grasp over the language will improve as well.