As in English, a singular noun in Klingon has no specific suffix indicating that it is singular: nuH weapon refers to a single weapon of any type. Unlike English, however, the lack of a specific suffix for plural does not always indicate that the noun is singular. In Klingon, a noun without a plural suffix may still refer to more than one entity The plurality is indicated by a pronoun, whether a verb prefix (see section 4.1) or a full word (section 5.1), or by context. For example, yaS officer may refer to a single officer or to a group of officers, depending on other words in the sentence or the context of the discussion.
yaS vImojpu' I became an officer.
yaS DImojpu' We became officers.
yaS jIH I am an officer.
yaS maH We are officers.
In the first pair of sentences, the only difference is the verb prefix (here only partially described; see section 4.1): vI- I, DI- we. In the second pair, the pronouns are different: jIH I, maH we.
Under certain circumstances, the only way to know wheth- er the noun refers to one or more than one entity is by context. Thus, yaS mojpu' can be translated either he/she became an officer or they became officers. Those taking part in any discussion in which this sentence is used would presum- ably already know whom is being talked about, so they would also know whether he or she or they is the correct meaning.
Fortunately for students of Klingon, it is never incorrect to add a plural suffix to a noun referring to more than one entity, even in those cases where it is unnecessary to do so. Accord- ingly, both yaS maH and yaSpu' maH are correct, both meaning we are officers (-pu' is a plural suffix). On the other hand, a plural suffix cannot be added to a noun referring to only one thing, even if pronouns are present in the sentence. In Klingon, yaSpu' jIH I am officers is as incorrect as its English translation.
There are three different plural suffixes in Klingon.
-pu' plural for beings capable of using language
This suffix can be used to indicate plurality for Klingons, Terrans, Romulans, Vulcans, and so on, but not for lower animals of any kind, plants, inanimate objects, electromag- netic or other beams or waves, etc.
yaS officer yaSpu' officers
Duy emissary Duypu' emissaries
-Du' plural for body parts
This suffix is used when referring to body parts of those beings capable of using language as well as of any other animal.
qam foot qamDu' feet
tlhon nostril tlhonDu' nostrils
-mey plural, general usage
This suffix is used to mark the plural of any noun.
mID colony mIDmey colonies
yuQ planet yuQmey planets
It can also be used with nouns referring to beings capable of using language (those nouns which take -pu'). When it is so used, it adds a notion of "scattered all about" to the meaning. Compare:
puq child puqpu' children puqmey children all over the place
The suffix -mey cannot be used with body parts. It should be noted, however, that Klingon poets often violate this grammatical rule in order to evoke particular moods in their poetry. Thus, forms such as tlhonmey nostrils scattered all about do occur. Until the subtle nuances of such constructions are firmly grasped, however, it is suggested that students of Klingon stick to the rules.
Finally, some nouns in Klingon are inherently or always plural in meaning, and therefore never take plural suffixes.
The singular counterparts of such words are utterly distinct:
The singular forms may take the -mey suffix, but the meaning always carries the "scattered all about" connotation:
DoSmey targets scattered all about
pengmey torpedoes all over the place
Inherently plural nouns are treated grammatically as singu- lar nouns in that singular pronouns are used to refer to them (sections 4.1, 5.1). For example, in the sentence cha yIghuS Stand by torpedoes! or Get the torpedoes ready to be fired! the verb prefix yI-, an imperative prefix used for singular objects, must be used even though the object (cha torpedoes) has a plural meaning.