Ask Dr. Bob: Why do we hear both terms “wind” and “winds”? Isn’t wind singular, as in “wind is out of the southwest” instead of “winds out of the southwest”? Just a curiosity that came to me this morning.
This is a very good point; I think, like much else in English, there is no rational basis for the interchangeability of the two terms.
However, in writing, I think I follow this convention:
a) if I am speaking of the wind over a considerable period of time, i use the plural;
b) if I am referring to the current direction and velocity, I use the singular.
c) if I am using the noun preceded by either the definite or indefinite singular article followed by a singular verb, I use wind;
d) if I am using a plural article and predicate, then I use “winds.”
Thanks for this.