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Some currencies like the baht (Thailand) and ringgit (malaysia) seem to be either singular or plural depending on context. As far as I know, these two countries don't use bahts or ringgits to denote more than one unit of their currency. For example:

1 baht, 100 baht; 1 ringgit, 100 ringgit.

When we want to use the plural in writing and speech, should we use bahts and ringgits or baht and ringgit?

Merriam-Webster gives the plural of baht as:

baht, also bahts;

and the plural of ringgit as :

ringgit, also ringgits.

What should I write?

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Even the English currency isn't always pluralised; one might say "five pound" meaning "five pounds", and one would certainly say "five quid" and not "five quids". –  Brian Hooper Feb 5 '11 at 8:04
    
Is it possible to have both the singular and plural forms, or should there be only one? –  Sky Red Feb 7 '11 at 7:57
    
Please don't use the form ringgits. No one uses it in Malaysia. I have 1 million Ringgit and 50 sen. Yup plural of sen is sen. –  user18008 Feb 10 '12 at 18:45
    
The plural of euro is officially euro, but in common usage euros is probably more popular. –  200_success Aug 28 '13 at 9:26
    
Why the question? "Also" in the dictionary directly indicates that it is an 'alternate, secondary, less preferred' option, presumably intended for special situations or such. Use that 'Also' to help understand when reading, not as the go-to when writing. –  Kris Nov 5 '13 at 14:05
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7 Answers 7

I have only ever heard/seen "100 baht", not "100 bahts". I've never dealt with ringgit.

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Likewise. Every sign, haggle, and other mention of money that I experienced in Thailand was "baht," even and especially in the plural. (1 baht is so ridiculously small an amount of money, it rarely comes up) –  heathenJesus Sep 13 '13 at 17:26
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Malay rarely uses any grammatical plural, especially if there is a number or quantity word associated with the noun, though reduplication is generally available if there might otherwise be ambiguity.

So it says "RM100" and "seratus ringgit" on the banknotes (seratus means hundred), and hence in Malaysian English. But if you were to say 100 ringgits, you would be understood.

Apparently Thai does not have a grammatical plural either.

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Does Malay recognise ringgits? You may be understood, but is it correct to use the plural form? If it is not acceptable usage, I can imagine the titters if someone were to say "ringgits." –  Sky Red Feb 7 '11 at 8:08
    
According to my Malaysian friend, it is technically incorrect to use the plural form "ringgits", but because so many foreigners use it, and Malaysians are too polite to correct them, it has become acceptable. Interestingly, in colloquial Malaysian English, I'm told that many Malaysians habitually use "dollars" and "bucks" instead of "ringgit". –  Gilead Mar 29 '11 at 14:14
    
@Sky Red: The Malay language does not have ringgits; nor does Malaysian English. Most Malaysians have English as a second or third language and know the use of -s as a productive plural in English, so would understand (without tittering) if a British or American visitor said ringgits. –  Henry Mar 29 '11 at 14:17
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I've never heard anyone use an ending 's' when describing Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, or Italian lira (of course the plural for lira is lire, which sounds about the same.) I've also not heard anyone say bahts. There are other words in the English language where the singular and plural use the same words, such as moose, sheep, and deer, so there's really no reason to create a new plural word if the singular form is already acting as the plural.

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Yes, you're right; I haven't heard that either. If the singular functions as the plural, why do you think M_W offers the plural form, too? Mind you, they list the singular first. –  Sky Red Feb 7 '11 at 7:55
    
I've come across foreigners who use bahts and ringgits, and staunchly maintain that they are right because that's how it's done in their language. Is there a whiff of linguistic ethnocentrism going on here? –  Sky Red Feb 7 '11 at 8:05
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I'm late to the conversation, but as many have said above, the plural of ringgit is ringgit. We don't use ringgits in conversation, except for fun, and when in Thailand, I have not heard at any time for the Thais to use bahts either. As an aside, to say "hundreds of ringgit" one could say "beratus-ratus ringgit", "ratus" being hundred as mentioned earlier.

Interestingly to note, our imported parking payment machines, with spoken instructions being in English and with fairly neutral U.S./U.K. accent, use ringgits. Which can cause occasional sighing and gnashing of teeth upon paying.

Like Gilead says, we do use "dollars" and "bucks" frequently in daily conversation. Also, we use "cents", despite also having the Malay alternative of sen (also plural), i.e. 20 cents/20 sen.

And having said that all, being a multiracial country, you could hear us speak of money in three or four different languages simultaneously, and this can also vary within the same language from state to state.

[I am Malaysian of Chinese descent, living in the capital, but English is my first language, with Malay and Cantonese in decreasing ability]

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I don't think pluralization as in the native language is the right thing to do in English: otherwise you should also follow the declination rules:

E.g. in Lithuanian, we have:

1 litas, 2 litai .. 9 litai, 10 litu, 11 litu .. 20 litu, 21 litas, 22 litai ..

in Polish:

1 zloty, 2 zlote, 3 zlote .. 5 zlotych .. 10 zlotych .. 22 zlote ..

Russian:

1 rubl, 2 rublya .. 5 rublei .. 20 rublei, 21 rubl, 22 rublya

and that would mean that any English speaker dealing with currencies would have to learn the basic grammar of every language, which would be crazy.

so when you speak English, pluralize the English way; when you speak another language, pluralize accordingly.

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And God help the Englishman trying to learn Irish, where you have (dialectally at least) punt, 2 phunt, 3–5 phunta/puntaí, 6–9 bpunta/bpuntaí, 10 bpunt, punt is 10, 3 phunta/puntaí is 10, 20 (=fiche) punt/20 (=scór) puntaí, 30 punt(a), 60 punt(a)/3 20 (=scór) punt, etc. Good luck getting that into any kind of English counting system. :-S –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 13 '13 at 19:12
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You've answered your own question: the dictionary says either "baht" or "bahts" works, but it gives a slight preference to "baht". Whichever you choose, be consistent.

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If you are writing American English, M-W is (at least where I work) the defacto go-to dictionary, so either could be used (baht/bahts).

If writing UK English, then you'd probably to refer to the Oxford English Dictionary, which seems to define only "baht" (plural same).

My point is that you should do what the grammar rules of the target language define.

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Merriam-Webster produces several dictionaries; presumably you are thinking of their Collegiate dictionary. But it is quite a different beast from the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a historical dictionary (and only available online with a subscription). –  choster Nov 5 '13 at 16:10
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