From 'Vocabulary' part of The ABC Of Plain Words by Sir E Gowers (1951)

Means in the sense of " means to an end " is a curious word; it may be treated either as singular or as plural. Supposing for instance that you wanted to say that means had been sought to do something, you may if you choose treat the word as singular and say " a means was sought" or "every means was sought". Or you may treat it as plural and say "all means were sought". Or again, if you use just the word meanswithout any word such as a or every or all to show its number, you may give it a singular or plural verb as you wish: you may say either "means was sought" or "means were sought" ; both are idiomatic. Perhaps on the whole it is best to say "a method (or way) was sought" if there was only one, and "means were sought" if there was more than one.

Means in the sense of monetary resources is always plural.

« Guide » « ABC of Plain Words » « Use Of English » « Library » « Home »