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"A team’s **** **** dictates which dice will be used when performing a **** ****. The higher a team’s **** **** the greater chance of rolling a successful ****. "

In this sentence "dice" is a variable that has the ability to be a single die D10 or two dice D6+D12 or D8+D8.

Am I correct in thinking it's dice then?

Thanks!

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  • per Ambrose Bierce, the correct singular is die but, We seldom hear the word, because there is a prohibitory proverb
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 15:25
  • In general, when the number of items is variable you use the plural form, even if there is a possibility of only a single item.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 15:53
  • The word dice is given as an acceptable singular form in Collins, and, I'd say, is by far the commoner choice, at least in the UK. I'm sure we'd not balk at 'one or two series', 'one or two aircraft', 'one small and two large fish'. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 17:31

1 Answer 1

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I have often heard "dice" used as a singular, and while many sources reject it, the 1998 New Oxford Dictionary of English apparently accepted it. Wiktionary has details.

I wouldn't be thrown off too badly by this sentence, but I also see how it may be confusing to read "dice" but roll only one die. If the goal is to be as clear and correct as possible, you have at least two very good options.

  1. "A team’s **** **** dictates which of the dice will be used when performing a **** ****. The higher a team’s **** **** the greater chance of rolling a successful ****.

  2. "A team’s **** **** dictates which die or dice will be used when performing a **** ****. The higher a team’s **** **** the greater chance of rolling a successful ****. "

In #1, "the dice" refers to all the types of dice in the game (d6, d8, d10, and d12) and avoids the singular/plural problem entirely. In #2, you cover all bases, explicitly acknowledging the possibility that only one die may be rolled. I personally prefer #2.

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