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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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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.

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
@RegDwigнt: Neither Merriam-Webster,, the OED or the ODO specify any plural for this word, so Wiktionary is quite alone in that trait. –  SarahofGaia Jul 15 at 19:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 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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