I think the word "semantics" is singular (just like e.g. "mathematics"), at least it is used that way (e.g. "... the semantics of ... "). I know its meaning at least in technical terms and I understand that often it makes sense to "treat it as singular" such as stated here. However, I definitively need the plural form and it feels like "semantices" sounds terrible.


  1. I insist that "semantics" is countable in the context at hand. I use "a semantics" as a mathematical term that refers to basically a function that maps strings of symbols to mathematical objects. Those functions are a countable quantity (in the linguistic, not the mathematical meaning of the term).

  2. I do understand that "semantics" is already in plural but this doesn't solve the problem at hand because, if what Jon Hanna says is correct, then it "doesnt work for something countable".

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    Give us the sentence where you "definitively need the plural form". – Dan Bron Sep 22 '17 at 10:54
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    several "semantices" of(for?) our language are introduced in section x. – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 10:58
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    What do you mean by ' several semantics of(for?) our language are introduced in section x'? Which sense of semantics do you mean? AHD, Collins etc offer several. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 22 '17 at 11:12
  • 3. (Logic) logic a. the study of interpretations of a formal theory – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:15
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    So,, what is the plural of "mathematics"? – Hot Licks Sep 22 '17 at 12:30

If you need a countable plural corresponding to a semantics, just use "two" (three, four, etc) semantics. Nothing else is possible in terms of a single word (you are correct about "semantices" being awful; the same goes for "semanticses").

Using "semantics" as a countable noun seems jargony to me, but it is precedented:

Google Ngram showing increasing use of "two semantics are"

Google Books "two semantics"

You would do the same thing if you are talking about different kinds of "mathematics" – e.g. "I will discuss two mathematics: the mathematics of X and the mathematics of Y".

  • I wonder how many of those ngrams are for "x semantics systems" or the like. I bet that's more common than semantics as the head noun. – curiousdannii Sep 22 '17 at 15:10
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    @curiousdannii: I just edited the ngram graph to show "two semantics are" to avoid that problem – sumelic Sep 22 '17 at 15:11

Plural form is also "semantics" (source):

Let's not argue about semantics. [uncountable; used with a singular verb]

The semantics of those terms are confusing. [plural; used with a plural verb]

  • So it is correct to write "the two semantics are very different"? – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:01
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    To me as long as the plural verb is used ("are") it's OK. – andselisk Sep 22 '17 at 11:02
  • @D.F.F. Again, what are you trying to say? 'The two physics are very different' is acceptable (if rare) in some situations. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 22 '17 at 11:16
  • Semantics refers to "3. (Logic) logic a. the study of interpretations of a formal theory". So yes, it is similar to your example with the physics (which again seems odd in singular) – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:20
  • @D.F.F. No; I was using 'physic' in the old-fashioned 'medicine' count usage. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 22 '17 at 11:26

I think the word "semantics" is singular (just like e.g. "mathematics")

Semantics is plural, just like mathematics.

I understand that often it makes sense to "treat it as singular"

That means that, as with mathematics the plural word is often used the way a singular word would be: always semantics, never a semantic.

However, I definitively need the plural form.

If you did definitely need the plural form, then you'd be in luck since semantics is plural. I'm doubtful as to why you "definitely need the plural form", since that suggests you need it for something countable which it doesn't work for.

several "semantices" of(for?) our language are introduced in section

I think here you actually need, ironically enough, the singular form.

Consider "*A semantic of our language is introduced". Would you ever use that? I imagine you mean one of the features that semantics studies:

Several semantic features of our language are introduced in this section.

Several semantic principles of our language are introduced in this section.

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    In fact semantics is countable in my case. I introduce four (4) completely different semantics (interpretations) of a formal language. I do not speak about different features of one semantics but of entirely different "ways of interpretation" (I want to use the term semantics for technical reasons). – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:34
  • Ah, I got you. In the case of "one semantics" you are, as the dictionary you quote says, treating it as singular though the word is (as the dictionary you quote also says) plural. – Jon Hanna Sep 22 '17 at 11:36
  • No! That is just the problem I am trying to solve ;) I use "semantics" if I speak about one semantics, which I think is correct and I am at peace with. However, I would like to use a word like "semantices" in those cases I speak about several (countable) semantic(e)s. Problem is that such a word doesn't exist. – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:42
  • So you're saying the dictionary you linked to is wrong, and it's not really plural, but often treated as singular? – Jon Hanna Sep 22 '17 at 11:50
  • where did I say that? – D.F.F Sep 22 '17 at 11:58

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