Of all the Romance languages, only in French "time," temps, is spelled with a final -s, even when it's in the singular.

Is this French peculiarity etymological, morphological, phonetic, or a combination thereof?

  • I’ve hardly any idea what you’re asking. Do you mean “why does ‘temps’ ends with and s?” or something else entirely? – Édouard Jul 19 '13 at 17:18
  • @Édouard Yes, why it has the -s ending. (By the way, if you feel you can make my question more explicit, you're free to edit it thus). – indoxica Jul 19 '13 at 17:24
  • I can do that. Please note, however, that despite the s in the end, it is not always plural. – Édouard Jul 19 '13 at 17:50
  • If this is a bad question, please vote to close it. I already have. – indoxica Jul 23 '13 at 16:10

There are many nouns in French that have an -s ending but are singular. Many of these nouns do not change when using singular or plural. Note that 'temps' does not change in the singular (le temps) and the plural (les temps).


The French word 'temps' comes from the Latin word 'tempus', which also means 'time' in English. This is the origin of the word. As words from other languages are used, they can be modified slightly such as this. 'Tempus' in Latin, is singular however. It's plural is 'tempora'. (Side note: Latin is also a romance language)

Other words in French with -s endings that are the same in singular or plural:

  • 'cours'
  • 'abattis'

More information: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temps#.C3.89tymologie

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