I am trying to revise the grammar of someone who insists that the following sentence is correct

In Cryptology, encryption is the process of encoding messages or information, and there are different methods, levels, and types of encryptions

His rationale is that it's a noun, and nouns can be pluralized. It feels wrong, and I want to modify that to say the following: (more edits are needed)

In cryptology, encryption is the process of encoding messages or information, and there are different methods, levels, and types of encryption formats

where the final word is formats, schemes, systems ..but then I realized that there probably several modifiers that I would use after the word encryption.


  1. Is it ever acceptable to use the word "encryptions"
  2. When using a phrase such as "encryption ____", what are acceptable plural words and their meanings?
  • I've never seen it pluralized in the literature. Some words don't have a plural form. – S.L. Barth Jul 17 '15 at 16:45
  • I would say, only when it refers to particular ciphertexts or the process of computing such particular ciphertexts. ​ For example, on page 11, Construction 2 uses two independent encryptions of m. ​ ​ ​ ​ – Ricky Demer Jul 17 '15 at 16:53
  • You need to look at this thread on countification [of mass nouns]. Thus 'softwares' is now acceptable to some authorities, and coffees to all. As to whether 'encryptions' is 'acceptable', Wiktionary (unusually amongst online dictionaries) votes yes (encryption [usually uncountable, plural encryptions]). Perhaps OED should be allowed the casting vote. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 17 '15 at 22:00

Well.. I say that 'encryption' in itself is a process. I mean it would not make sense to pluralize words like 'cookings' or 'cleanings'. They are ways. More broadly a strategy. Would it make sense to pluralize 'manufacturing' to 'manufacturings'..? No.

You are right in correcting the word 'encryptions'. It makes no sense. You can probably use words like 'processes','methods', 'algorithms', 'formats', 'mechanisms', 'standards , or something similar with dictates the use of 'encryption' as the process for the particular context.

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  • "Lady Macbeth sighed, after three cleanings her hands were still bloody" – Jasen Jul 18 '15 at 13:14
  • This is not precise reasoning. Words have different senses, sometimes many. With nouns, some may be mass, others count. Thus 'Coffee is my favourite drink' uses the neither-intrinsically-singular-nor-plural mass noun coffee, but in 'Two coffees, please' and 'Better coffees contain mainly Coffea arabica beans' broadening licenses the countification. So an authority rather than personal opinion is needed to support this claim. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 18 '15 at 17:02

I think this sentence definitely misses the mark for English vocabulary.

First, 'Cryptology' is probably the wrong word in this context. In security parlance, it is usually given as 'Cryptography'; and in the strict grammatical sense he's talking about writing encoded messages. Here's an interesting article pointing out the difference between the two words.

Second, 'encryption' is typically not pluralized and given in security parlance as simple 'encryption' and is pluralized in context. While 'encryptions' is the historical plural form of encryption, it is antiquated/obsolete. Compare this to the plural form of money, 'moneys', which you almost never see (except perhaps in stuffy legal documents etc) although it is technically the correct word.

Types of encryption are typically given as the word encryption with a plural noun afterwards: e.g. "encryption algorithms," "encryption techniques," "encryption methods," "encryption ciphers," "encryption technologies," etc.

In the end, it sounds like the person writing this is relying too heavily on a questionably dated dictionary and not in the modern context of the language.

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  • 1
    I've only been in the IT industry for 10 years, and have to agree with this post. In my experience 'encryptions' does not exist as a word – gabe3886 Jul 17 '15 at 20:11

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