My question involves a term that occurs in a game called Refined Metal. It's used to describe an item, such as when exchanging game coins. I am semi-arguing with my wife about whether I need to use the term Refined Metal or Refined Metals.

Here is an instance of the type of conversation we have been having:

Me: I am willing to exchange tickets for Refined Metal.

My wife: How many?

Me: 12 of them.

But my wife tells me I should say:

I am willing to exchange tickets for Refined Metals.

Or another example:

Buy Refined Metal for tickets.

So what is the correct usage?

As I know that it's all the same type of metal, I don't believe I need to use the word 'metals', because this would imply that I'm referring to different types of metal. My situation involves different amounts of the same metal.

  • 2
    You are right in relation to the logic of your reasoning; your wife is right if you want to maintain a good relationship with her. :)
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 4:43

1 Answer 1


I think you are correct, both semantically and in common usage. A useful retort to your wife's line of reasoning would be that no one would say "I am willing to exchange tickets for monies," even if the monetary exchange included different denominations, both bills and coins, or even several different types of currency.

A more academic argument would be that "metal" can already refer collectively to several types of metal.

OED b.1.b The constituent matter of a metal or of metals collectively; metallic substance.

This, combined with the previous example of how "money" is used collectively, I think more than justifies your usage.

On the other hand, referring to it as "metals" is not incorrect, and possesses as certain charm (as in how British English often sounds to Americans).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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