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What's the proper plural for "photo" - "photos", "photoes", or it is generally desired to rephrase the whole thing and stick with "photographs", "images", "shots", "pictures", etc?

As for usage frequency, quick Google search reveals that:

  • "photos" => ~5,380,000,000 ghits
  • "photoes" => ~3,340,000 ghits, which is ~1000 times less often used, although some of the results point to English grammar forums where some people suggest that "photoes" might be indeed correct form given Greek origin of the word

Dictionary check reveals:

  • Oxford clearly gives plural as "photos", but suggests that "photoes" is a verb
  • Merriam-Webster gives plural as "photos", but does not recognize "photoes" as a valid word at all, albeit it does recognize "photoed" as a verb
  • Cambridge gives "photos", clearly makes it as AmE-only and also insists that there's no verb - i.e. no "photoes", no "photoed", no "photoing"
  • Collins agreed on "photos" and agreed on that verb does not exist
  • Douglas-Harper Online Etymology Dictionary tells us that both noun and verb exist - the noun is since 1860, the verb is first recorded 1868, from the noun.

I'm kind of hesitating here. If you'd ask me, I'd rather opt for not using plural forms of "photo" at all - both "photos" and "photoes" feel somewhat awkward for me (as do "audios", "videos" or "alphas" / "betas" / "gammas" / "deltas").

So, generally, what's the most neutral way to refer to a group of photographs? Bonus points for revealing BrE/AmE differences.

  • Of course 'Bonus points' – Fr0zenFyr Nov 7 '13 at 6:48
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    It's always photos or if you prefer something even shorter, pics. – Mari-Lou A Nov 7 '13 at 8:37
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    In the dictionary photos is the plural of the noun, whereas photoes is the third person singular conjugate of the verb photo. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 7 '13 at 10:11
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    I would suggest that using photo/photoes as a present-tense verb is unusual to the point of non-existence. Even ODO has photoed (past tense) in their example. But there's nothing wrong with photos as a plural. – Andrew Leach Nov 7 '13 at 12:21
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    The verbs go and do in the 3rd person singular are goes and does; the nouns potato (s) potatoes and hero (s) heroes (pl) follow the same pattern, hence some people apply the same spelling convention for photo. Just write photos always, and without the apostrophe. I often see native speakers write photo's when they mean the plural form. – Mari-Lou A Dec 3 '15 at 6:56
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Photoes seems to have peaked in the 1950s and the usage of photo vs photoes nowadays is about ten to one according to Google's Ngram. I am a native speaker of American English and I suspect photoes is significantly more common in non-US usage. It just looks like a spelling error to my American eyes.

protected by tchrist Jul 3 '17 at 1:10

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