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For example, "Lets go to the drive in(s) this weekend". Half of my friends say drive in and half say drive ins. I say drive ins. This is referring to the movie drive ins and not a drive in such as a restaurant.

Looking at other phrases in english its hard to tell if it should be plural or not:

  • "Lets go to the movies this weekend" - plural
  • "Lets go to the store tonight" - singular

In the case of movies, you're going to see one movie but its still plural, same with going to see a movie at the drive ins.

Whats the correct form?

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    Back when they actually existed, I don't recall ever hearing "drive ins" used to refer to an individual automotive-access open air movie theater. One might, however, say "Let's do the drive ins this weekend", suggesting the possibility of attending more than one.
    – Hot Licks
    May 29, 2018 at 0:35
  • And "movies" is the same -- with a little historical note: It used to be that "double features" were the norm, where two (sorta) full-length movies and several "short features" were presented back-to-back. So it made sense to say "Let's go to the movies." I doubt that this is said as much anymore, when previews are as close to "short features" as you might get.
    – Hot Licks
    May 29, 2018 at 0:38
  • I'm definitely going to just start referring to it as "automotive-access open air movie theater". That solves all of my problems. Interesting though because our drive in only does double or triple feature movies. May 29, 2018 at 0:42
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    Well, the last drive-in in these parts (SW Minnesota) closed about 30 years ago, so I'm not up on current practices. But running a double feature in a drive in is "movies", but does not justify pluralizing "drive in". You wouldn't say "Let's go to the movie theaters" unless you were intending to visit more than one physical establishment, double feature or not.
    – Hot Licks
    May 29, 2018 at 0:50
  • You would only go to the drive-ins if you visited more than one drive-in. May 29, 2018 at 5:59

1 Answer 1

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The word "drive-in" (note the hyphen) by itself usually refers to a drive-in theater. Back in the day (50 years ago or so), many towns had a drive-in theater where people would sit in their cars and watch a movie; sound was supplied by a speaker that you would hang onto a partly open window. Larger towns and cities might have more than one drive-in. Drive-in theaters have almost disappeared from the US in the last few decades, however. There were (and still are) drive-in restaurants where you sit in your parked car, order your food and drink via intercom, and your order is brought to you on a tray that attaches to your car's window. This is not the same as a drive-up, an eatery where you drive up to an intercom, place your order, drive up to a window where you pay and your food and drink are handed to you, and then you drive away. Fast-food places like McDonald's very often have drive-up service.

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  • This is a long lecture about the subject matter of the question, that doesn't even mention the question itself, never mind trying to reply to it. -1.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 28, 2018 at 9:17

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