I'm trying to be consistent in my system with some logic to name a directory either singular or plural.

Examples of directory names

  • document(s)
  • language(s)
  • apple(s)

The way I see it now is: everything should be named singular although it's strange in some cases.


The directory languages implies that you have more than one language.
The directory language is agnostic of it. You could named it directory of language, but for common sense you just ignores the first word.

I've seen some rules about the content of the directory:
- plural if homogeneous and singular for heterogeneous.

The problem

There's some rule for this?


This can be anything you want to label! My question is: how you do that?

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist, FumbleFingers, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, choster, Zairja Jan 28 '15 at 19:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about a filing system naming convention, not "use of English" as such. – FumbleFingers Jan 28 '15 at 13:44
  • This can be a directory, this can be a folder, this can be your drawer, this can be anything you want to label. – old Jan 28 '15 at 13:55
  • OK... if it's a drawer, do you put "Tribbles" on the outside, or "Tribble"? [Welcome to ELU, by the way!] – Andrew Leach Jan 28 '15 at 14:01
  • Tribble seems weird. But Tribble drawer no. Perhaps they're equivalent. – old Jan 28 '15 at 14:04
  • In "Tribble drawer", Tribble is used as an adjective, and adjectives are not inflected for number. But "Tribbles drawer" would probably work. There may be a question here if you can get away from naming conventions: use drawer labels. (Names are entirely arbitrary: you could name your directory "Eleanor" and it would function just as well. That's why they are off-topic.) – Andrew Leach Jan 28 '15 at 14:07

Use plurals if there's even the possibility of there being multiple items in that directory (whether now, in the past, or in the future). If on your desk you had a box labelled "Pencils" which contained five pencils, and you took four out, you wouldn't suddenly decide that the "Pencils" label was incorrect and needed to be replaced with one that just said "Pencil". You'd just think that you were running out of pencils.

On the other hand, if there will never be more than one item in that directory, no matter what happens in the future, then it would probably be more intention-revealing to use a singular name. This doesn't happen that often, though, because if there's only ever going to be one item in a directory, you don't really need a directory (unless that "one item" is actually made up of several files).

On the whole, I would use pluralized names unless I had a very good reason to use a singular.

  • However, "Vacation Stuff" rather than "Vacations", unless you keep the files for multiple vacations in a single folder. – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 28 '15 at 14:33
  • Well, both of those names are pretty terrible in that scenario, anyway. If you want to have one directory per vacation, giving those directories names like "vacation stuff" is a good way to end up having to check inside several directories trying to remember which vaguely-named directory contains the files for your 2012 trip to Egypt. Better would be "Egypt Vacation, 2012" for example - singular, because there will only ever be one such vacation (unless you invent a time machine so that you can go back and take another!). – Chris Jan 28 '15 at 14:43
  • The last paragraph made my mind more clear. Thank you. Would be nice to see more discussion but it seems that this is relative/uninteresting perhaps.. – old Jan 28 '15 at 17:45

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