When would system need to be pluralized?

Say you offer two products that serve the same function. Do you offer two systems or one system?

To try and give an example...

I have an integrated facial recognition system built into the camera. Few years passed and I developed a new camera that also has my facial recognition. I offer both options. Would I say:

"My system integrates facial recognition..." or "My systems integrate facial recognition..."

Is there a rule for determining something like this? By sound I lean towards it being a singular system. My colleague believes it needs to be plural.

  • You uses system when you have just one of them, and systems when you have more than one of them. – tchrist Nov 8 '13 at 1:36

In this case it could turn out to be a marketing answer (i.e. how do you want it to sound?)

  • an old system and a new system make two systems.

  • If the underlying code is basically the same, you could say it's the same system (but you may not want to in the interest of selling the new product)

  • If the product is the system (rather than containing it), and you offer two products, you offer two systems (by definition).

Don't forget that a system is a set of interoperable parts, so two independent sets leads to two systems. So I tend to agree with your colleague in this case.

It's not really grammatical number IMO, more logical number, though I agree with the choice of tag.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.