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What is the plural of syntax? Would it be syntacies? What rule would govern this kind of construction?

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General reference - there are many "different syntaxes", but only one plural form for the word itself. –  FumbleFingers Apr 24 '12 at 22:19
Related: Which style of Latin plurals should I use? I'd like to specifically quote this passage: "Unless you are absolutely, completely sure you know the correct classical plural, use the English plural. Using the classical plural may have a nice ring to it, but if you get it wrong it's so, so wrong." –  RegDwigнt Apr 24 '12 at 23:33
Oh, and closing this as general reference because you can just look it up in a dictionary. –  RegDwigнt Apr 25 '12 at 8:46
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, jwpat7, Jasper Loy, RegDwigнt Apr 25 '12 at 8:45

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.

2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As FumbleFingers has commented, the plural is syntaxes.

That's probably because the normal plural -es is added to the root word, or it may possibly be because the Greek/Late Latin word from which syntax is derived is syntaxis and Greek words ending in -is are pluralised with -es.

If we were to create a spoof plural for syntax it would be syntaces (words ending -x get -ces; the preceding vowel can change as in index/indices). But no-one uses that, or would know what it meant.

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An erroneous plural, which I offer for comparison is:


It has a rough comparability in frequency to the less exotic, more naturally English sounding 'syntaxes'.

ngram comparison of syntaxes and syntagma

This is erroneous as a plural of 'syntax' because it is a linguistic term having to do with rule based things but it is not a word to describe a multiplicity of a collection of rules. 'Syntagma' is a sequence of words that form a syntactic unit (for example, a noun phrase), a -single- syntactic constituent (no rule or rules, the plurality is in the (expected) number of words).

Note: I have no explanation whatsoever of the shifted character of the graphs.

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