When I saw the word "plurality" being used in a grammar context, I thought they were getting mixed up with election related terminology - winning more votes than anyone else, but not getting a majority - and thought the correct word was "pluralisation".

However, I can see "plurality" used on language-related websites, and in dictionaries.

Is "plurality" a valid word, and if so, what's the difference between it and "pluralisation"?

  • 6
    My immediate reaction: "pluralization" is a process, or the result of a process, and "plurality" is a state. So e.g. a question like "What is the plural of 'cactus'?" would be a question about pluralization, but a question about "Is 'group' singular or plural?" would be a question about plurality.
    – herisson
    May 14, 2016 at 2:47
  • Since you've seen "plurality" in dictionaries, and could look up "pluralisation" too, What's to stop you answering your own questions?
    – Chris Hunt
    Sep 2, 2021 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


This boils down to the differences between the suffixes -ity and -(at)ion.

From Dictionary.com:


a suffix used to form abstract nouns expressing state or condition: jollity; civility; Latinity.

In this case, plurality marks the state of being plural. Its semantic root is "plural".


-a combination of -ate1.and -ion, used to form nouns from stems in -ate 1, (separation); on this model, used independently to form nouns from stems of other origin:


a suffix, appearing in words of Latin origin, denoting action or condition, used in Latin and in English to form nouns from stems of Latin adjectives ( communion; union), verbs ( legion; opinion), and especially past participles ( allusion; creation; fusion; notion; torsion).

Pluralization is the process of being pluralized. Its semantic root stems from "pluralize".

And for pluralize itself:

verb (used with object), pluralized, pluralizing. 1. to express in the plural form; make plural : to pluralize a noun. verb (used without object), pluralized, pluralizing. 2. to receive or take a plural form.

And "pluralize" itself contains a suffix "-ize" that creates verbs!

a verb-forming suffix occurring originally in loanwords from Greek that have entered English through Latin or French ( baptize; barbarize; catechize); within English, -ize, is added to adjectives and nouns to form transitive verbs with the general senses “to render, make” ( actualize; fossilize; sterilize; Americanize), “to convert into, give a specified character or form to” ( computerize; dramatize; itemize; motorize), “to subject to (as a process, sometimes named after its originator)” ( hospitalize; terrorize; galvanize; oxidize; simonize; winterize). Also formed with -ize, are a more heterogeneous group of verbs, usually intransitive, denoting a change of state ( crystallize), kinds or instances of behavior ( apologize; moralize; tyrannize), or activities ( economize; philosophize; theorize).

Don't get lost in the suffix jungle!

Compare reality, realization.

  • Pluralization is more the process of being made plural than the state. Nouns ending in -ization describe processes: homogenization, demoralization, mercerization, etc. May 14, 2016 at 15:14
  • @JohnLawler Assimilation slip, correcting. May 14, 2016 at 15:26

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