Dear Susan: Pesky Plurals

Dear Susan,
When listening to dictation, what do I do when I can’t hear a term well enough to decide if it should be singular or plural?  For example, bruit/bruits always trips me up, as do abnormality/abnormalities and mass/masses.

Signed,
Confused

Dear Confused,
The rule about using an ‘s’ or not depends upon the verb in the sentence. For example:
No

are noted—this would need to be bruits because of the plural verb “are.”
No
is noted—this would need to be abnormality because of the singular verb “is.”
No
palpated—this could be either mass or masses because there is no verb in the sentence. 

Signed,
Susan

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