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" 'We were looking at Class 3 misdemeanor, which hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances,' Alderden said. 'We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren't additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance.' "

Are there rules on when to use the plural "circumstances" and when to use the singular "circumstance"?
In the phrase, "given the circumstances", the word "circumstances" is always plural. In fact, the word "circumstances" is almost always used in the plural. The phrase in the text, "in this circumstance," is a rare instance of the use of "circumstance" in the singular. You would rarely see it in the singular except in highly technical legal situations like this.
PamQueueAre there rules on when to use the plural "circumstances" and when to use the singular "circumstance"?
There are no special rules for this noun. It follows the same rules as normal nouns.
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AnonymousThe phrase in the text, "in this circumstance," is a rare instance of the use of "circumstance" in the singular. You would rarely see it in the singular except in highly technical legal situations like this.
Old folk like myself don't hesitate to use it. Emotion: smile In what circumstance would you not use it?

I'd agree that in this particular Washington Post quote, it's bad style to use both the singular and the plural in describing the very same situation.

"In this circumstance" is used somewhat like "in this instance," or "in this situation."

"Given the circumstances" is an idiomatic expression, while "given the circumstance" is less so.

I'd agree that you won't find the singular in casual conversation, except perhaps among old folk; but I don't believe it's restricted to "highly technical legal situations."

- A.
AvangiI'd agree that in this particular Washington Post quote, it's bad style to use both the singular and the plural in describing the very same situation.
Yes, it is a little redundant, but the word is used correctly.

Both the singular and plural are commonly used, but the plural is far more frequent.

Here are some sentences with the singular:

I wouldn't do that under any circumstance.

Don't leave it up to circumstance or chance.

There's a lot of pomp and circumstance.

There was an unusual circumstance in February when...

I remember a similar circumstance years ago.

The only circumstance in which he might gain politically is...
AlpheccaStarsHere are some sentences with the singular:
I wouldn't do that under any circumstance.
Don't leave it up to circumstance or chance.
There's a lot of pomp and circumstance.
There was an unusual circumstance in February when...
I remember a similar circumstance years ago.
The only circumstance in which he might gain politically is...
Hi, A/S,
I have the feeling that with the exception of numbers two and three, all could be converted to plural without any change in meaning or effect.

Those two strike me as being idioms.

Best regards, - A.
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Hi Avangi;

I took most of these out of the American Corpus - they are direct recent quotes.

It just goes to show that both singular and plural are being used...

A-Emotion: stars