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I was composing an email and needed the plural form of the word "functionality." To my surprise I saw the dreaded red underline indicating a spelling mistake.

spelling mistake

It made me wonder whether this was a false alarm. I searched for the word and found it being used at www.thefreedictionary.com

It then struck me that this was the browser's fault, as it comes with a spell checker. (Initially, I thought it was Gmail's fault).

Which brings me to my query: Is it wrong to pluralize "functionality?"

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closed as general reference by Jim, Carlo_R., tchrist, Kris, Hugo May 4 '13 at 16:17

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Yep. I did check it at merriam too. The thing is I wasn't sure which one is a trusted source –  asprin May 4 '13 at 7:58
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This is a database problem. The database is contained in the spell checker. Don't trust spell checkers for two reasons: (1) they're always incomplete no matter how large they are; (2) while they may tell you that all the words in your document are correctly spelled, they can't tell you whether you've chosen the correct word in cases of "to, two, too", "it's, its", "their, there, they're", "effect, affect", and other commonly mistyped or misspelled words. –  user21497 May 4 '13 at 8:10
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Perhaps you are meant to take this as a warning -- not that the word has been misspelled but that it is unnecessary. Not every collection of syllables needs to be endlessly extended with multiple suffixes. –  Fortiter May 4 '13 at 8:44
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Your contention that the red underscore implies a non-existent word is incorrect. It's a warning -- it does not state anything categorically whether the word exists. On a different note: from the example, your use of the plural appears incorrect as well: "What's wrong (with) Gmail?" "(Its) functionality." (not Functionalities,) even though there may be several things wrong with Gmail's functionality. –  Kris May 4 '13 at 11:25

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Functionality can be used as a countable or uncountable noun. In the former case, it is pluralised as functionalities. It is always preferable to check reputable dictionaries instead of rely on software built-in spellcheckers.

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Hmm..wonder what made Firefox flag it as spelling mistake then. It did took me by surprise though. –  asprin May 4 '13 at 8:07
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@asprin If you check at thefreedictionary.com/functionality , you'll see that the AHD and Collins dictionary listings there include the count-noun usage (which pluralises) whereas the Webster's doesn't. Being a computer-related usage, the count-noun usage probably just hasn't made it into all reputable comprehensive dictionaries yet. –  Edwin Ashworth May 4 '13 at 10:12

All dictionaries fail at some point, especially as the words you're using get more technical or specialized. When that happens, and you're in doubt, a search of the internet centered on the word in question, within the context of the field you're using it in, can be very helpful.

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There are 1326 records showing its use in the Corpus of Web-Based Global English.

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;) Auto-flag thinks this is "low-quality because of its length and content." And content? Time for the system to educate itself. I'm going to tell meta. –  Kris May 4 '13 at 11:30

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