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To me, inasmuch as use of the word functionality referring to software means the extent of its overall ability, I would write "The software implements the following functionality." However, I've seen (from my Indian counterparts), "The software implements the following functionalities." To me, this just sounds awkward and wrong. In fact, as I just typed functionalities, the text box editor underlines it in red. And yet, I read all over the internet that the plural of functionality is functionalities so I don't know why it should be flagged. However, I guess that's not my question. My question is as in the title; are both examples above correct inasmuch as the software quite obviously will implement more than one piece of functionality?

Edit Based on the comments below, let me rephrase my titular question. Are both examples above correct English? If so, do they both convey the same message? The way I'm employing functionality only feels plural, but that wasn't the essence of my question.

Edit 2 It looks like someone edited my titular question which is good because the focus below became too much on pluralization vs. idiomatic correctness. It appears that both uses are idiomatically correct. However, within the "anglosphere", as Dan calls it, functionality is most commonly (and properly) used as a mass noun. From the Meriam Webster's Online Dictionary referenced below, functionality is defined as: "the particular use or set of uses for which something is designed".

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    First, a word of caution: this site tends strongly towards descriptivism, and the most common answer to questions with "Is X correct?" is "Yes" (and, frequently, "Yes!"), so long as "X" was comprehensible to speaker and audience. With that said ... "functionalities" makes me (Dan) shudder. – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 20:34
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    Welcome Thomas! Business English and especially promotional materials Love To Overemphasize Their Importance. It doesn't sound powerful enough to say "The software does x, y, and z." Why use simple words when you can Untilitize the Full-Featured functionalities of Biz-speak to impress your customers and especially oneself asa writer. (While meanwhile all the rest of notice the Language Emperor has no clothes.) – Howard Pautz Sep 15 '14 at 20:35
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    @HowardPautz, to my ear, "functionalities" doesn't sound so much like "commercialese" as Indian English. Which, given India has 100M+ ESL speakers today, and a growth rate far surpassing the rest of the anglosphere combined, means "functionalities" will probably be proper, standard usage in 5 years or so :) – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 20:39
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    To answer the question in the title very briefly: no, both are not correct pluralisations, because functionality is not a pluralisation at all. Functionalities is the correct pluralisation of functionality. Whether or not your Indian colleagues are using functionalities in a way that makes sense is a different matter, but if the context calls for a plural, functionalities will be it; for example, in something like “In this episode, we compare the functionalities and designs of several popular brands of kitchenware”, the plural is fine (though a singular would be possible also). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '14 at 20:44
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    Both functionality as well as functionalities can be used depending on context. They are both correct, grammatical and make sense in appropriate context. – Kris Sep 16 '14 at 6:10
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Google defines functionality as the range of operations that can be run on a computer or other electronic system, so we would expect either "functions" or "functionality." The arguable exception would be if we were referring to multiple systems, each with a different functionality.

  • Well explained, thank you. In the sense it is often used by my colleagues, it is used in reference to single piece of software. As for your exception, yes I could easily see either being used though I note that you chose a different functionality over different functionalities. :) – Thomas Doman Sep 15 '14 at 20:57
  • TFD thefreedictionary.com/functionalities – Kris Sep 16 '14 at 6:13
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According to Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary, the plural of Functionality is in fact Functionalities.

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    Someone edited my titular question which is good because the focus became too much on pluralization vs. idiomatic correctness. It appears that both uses are correct in that "functionality" can be used (and typically is when used within in the anglosphere) as a mass noun. From your Meriam Webster's Online Dictionary reference definition, functionality is defined as: "the particular use or set of uses for which something is designed" – Thomas Doman Jul 16 '15 at 14:54

protected by Community Mar 20 '17 at 12:41

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