Can "tombeaux" refer to a singular tomb? Like how the plural french word "recherches" refers can be translated as the singular english word "research"?

  • The noun tombeau is neither a mass noun (like sable) nor a plurale tantum (like lunettes), so I'm not sure what's going on. Are you sure you don't mean the adjective tombal (as in pierre tombales), as jiliagre points out? It would be spelled tombaux in the plural, without an e.
    – Circeus
    Nov 28, 2017 at 12:24
  • I meant tombeaux. I wanted to know for sure. Thank you for your help! Nov 28, 2017 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


No, it can't. But the singular of "tombeaux" is "tombeau" (and not "tombal", which is an adjective). They sound the same, maybe that why you're confused.

For "research", it can translate to "des recherches", but that's when it's uncountable in English.


The plural tombeaux can't be used to refer to a single tomb. Of course, the singular tombeau does.

Research is uncountable in modern English so almost never used in the plural1, while both recherche and tombeau can be used both in the singular and the plural.

While tombeau poses no problem, for recherche we have:

  • La recherche which is similar to the English "research" when used generically, i.e. the research field/domain.

  • Des/les recherches which represents a collection of distinct research activities, i.e. pieces of research. It is also usually translated to "research".

Even if there is a single piece of research, e.g. "my research about squaring the circle", we often prefer the plural:

  • Mes recherches sur la quadrature du cercle is common
  • Ma recherche sur la quadrature du cercle is rare

The singular would be used with:

  • Mon étude sur la quadrature du cercle

1 That wasn't the case until the 20th century. Earlier, researches used to be prevalent.

  • Your first sentence was misleading, feel free to revert my edit if you dislike it. Nov 28, 2017 at 14:58
  • @AnneAunyme I don't get how it could be misunderstood as it was clearly replying to the question. Answer re-edited to fully clarify the point anyway.
    – jlliagre
    Nov 28, 2017 at 15:08

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