Foundations: Singular or Plural?

I got a question from the Peanut Gallery.
Ted asks:

Q: Is the noun “foundations” plural or singular? Why is it that people refer to foundations as plural when referring to structures? There may, of course, be more than one foundation to a structure. I got lucky, as there were two of them in my case, so it was automatically plural. I googled the word “foundations.” Surprisingly, Google Dictionary had the noun “foundation” in its
singular state.
A: Foundations would take a plural verb, as it is a plural noun, with foundation being the singular form. And by the way, it is now
acceptable to use the word “google” as a verb, as it is in the dictionary.

Foundation is defined by Webster as the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level. Now, many times there are multiple pilings sunk into the bedrock to serve as load-bearing members, so “foundations” would apply in such a case, taking a plural verb.

As for the case of the Perdue Ranch, a.k.a. Jeanne’s house, there is one cement slab, which we call the foundation (singular). It has cracks in it due to the recent drought’s effect on the soil. That is probably why the linen closet door doesn’t want to open.

In my world, the word “foundations” refers to the area of the department store where they sell bras and girdles for full-figured gals like me. And foundation (without an S) is the flesh-colored cream I put on my face as a base to even out my skin tone before applying all the other cosmetics. But in the oil patch they both mean a lot of cement.

Other common definitions of foundation are:
1) A fundamental basis that must be established prior to building other parts or knowledge upon it.
Trigonometry and calculus cannot be learned unless the student has a good foundation of algebra.
Professor Z teaches PETE 301: The Foundations of Acidizing.

2) Justification, reason, or fundamental assumptions
His accusations of copyright infringement were without foundation.

3) A permanent institution or organization established to fund research or charity, usually through an endowment.
Each year, the Alief Education Foundation funds student scholarships and teacher mini-grants.

For any of these definitions, foundations with an S take a plural verb, and foundation without an S takes a singular verb.


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