13

I came up (re)phrasing a question like this:

What's so special about directories whose name begins with a dot?

But now, I'm wondering whether this is the correct handling of plurals or not. Should the following be preferred?

What's so special about directories whose names begin with a dot?

(In French both are correct and have different meanings — singular suggests that each directory has one name, plural suggests each directory can have several names, but it might be different in English.)

  • As a follow up, how would you convey the meaning in French of the latter statement in English? – Yatharth Agarwal Aug 18 '13 at 11:23
  • @Yat: I doubt it's possible to convey this meaning in a straightforward way. But you can ask this as a new question. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 18 '13 at 20:02
16

The second is correct in this context. Since whose is referring to the plural directories, it must take a plural noun:

What's so special about directories whose names begin with a dot?

The above holds unless the directories collectively have one name, in which case it would be correct to use name in the singular.

  • 2
    Ok. So both are correct, but their meanings are different from what I expected! – Stéphane Gimenez Sep 30 '11 at 18:16
  • No, no, no, if each directory only has one name, the plural suggests otherwise. If you really want to distinguish, say What's so special about a directory whose name begins with a dot? – Will Crawford Mar 14 '18 at 4:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.