Thanks for all the answer, guys!

Go which means:

A Japanese board game of territorial possession and capture, played with usu. black and white stones or counters on a board marked with intersecting lines.

I am going to be very specific here. This question stemmed from the discussion in the comment section on:

What is the plural of the noun "go" (as in “have a go”)?

Janus said:

As with many, if not most, other mass nouns, go can indeed be pluralised. Such a pluralisation entails type-shifting, and the plural form refers to different types of go. It’s the same principle as when talking about different peoples, monies, or waters, except those are common, whereas many other count nouns are uncommonly enough pluralised that they sound strange when you first encounter them

Also, Chappo said:

@JanusBahsJacquet I agree - uncommon, sounds weird but is perfectly acceptable. "Jovian chess uses different rules: the two chesses should not be confused"

My question here: How do you determine which mass noun(s) can be pluralized? Which one is 'pluralizable' which one is 'non-pluralizable'?

Is there any difference between American English and British English point of view in this matter?

How do you determine the commonness of the noun so that it is deemed 'acceptable to be pluralized'?


is it all subjective view for every and each English speaker? if it is so, this discussion will bear no fruit, I'm afraid (and @mod please close down this thread)

How do you determine the notion of 'something that sounds weird but acceptable' or 'sounds okay but non-acceptable'?

Reference: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/countable-nouns



  • I think Janus is right, it's just that in doing so with any word it'll sound strange. If someone had never heard of awarded damages in a legal context, they would probably insist that you can't pluralise "damage". A car has damage, not damages. However in a legal context it's accepted by everyone. Or how about if I wanted to say "futilities" or "inevitabilities"? Would that be OK? – Zebrafish Nov 8 '18 at 3:32
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    The big problem with pluralizing go as gos is that doing so will require a great deal of cossetting. You'll have to work hard to establish the context explicitly. Even then the optics will be poor: The native speaker's eye will want to direct the speech center of the brain to pronounce it to rhyme with joss or floss instead of rose. And there is no precedent with other games. We don't pluralize chess as chesses. We use a counter: games of chess. You'll be familiar with that usage from Japanese: 2枚の切手, for example, where 枚 is the counter for flat things like stamps. – Robusto Nov 8 '18 at 3:58
  • Duplicate of ell.stackexchange.com/questions/174056/…? – Roaring Fish Nov 8 '18 at 4:10
  • It's my understanding that "Go", spelled with a capital letter, is the name of a game, it doesn't mean a game. Think of the board game Monopoly (spelled with a capital letter) e.g. "Millions of Monopoly sets are sold every year during Christmas" You don't normally pluralise the name ‘Monopoly’ – Mari-Lou A Nov 8 '18 at 4:40
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    @Mari-LouA "Go was the first Japanese game widely adopted in the West. Will there be other '/ɡoʊz/' in the future?" is an example of a valid use of the plural of the named game. – Mark Beadles Nov 8 '18 at 20:34

Since you are being very specific about the game of Go, I will be very specific in my answer.

If talking about the game, you would not pluralize Go at all.

Comparing it to chess (or any other game):

✔ How many games of (Go / chess) did you play?
✘ How many (Gos / Goes / chesses) did you play?
✔ I'd like to play three more rounds of (Go / chess).
✘ I'd like to play three more (Gos / Goes / chesses).

Whether it's Go or something else, the names of games keep the same form. It's games, rounds, or some other descriptive word that gets pluralized instead.

Note that some names of games are pluralized in the first place—such as darts. You would play one round of darts or two rounds of darts (not dart).

So, in the domain of language related to games, the base form of the name of the game stays the same, whether the name uses a singular or plural form.

Update: As asked in a comment, I will try to add some kind of authoritative source for this.

I suppose it's possible that in conversation Go could be pluralized. Many ungrammatical things are done in conversation that would never be done in writing. It's even possible that examples of it could be found in informal writing. But unless there is a preponderance of such usage, I would say it is at best obscure and at worst simply aberrant. (Although useful as a communication tool among those doing so.)

Intellectual ownership is one explicit argument against the pluralization of a trademarked proper noun.

Chris Scott Bar discusses this in the article "The plural of iPad is ‘iPad devices’ says Apple (LEGO, too!)":

Yesterday I Photoshopped a picture of a stand that I built for my two iPads out of LEGOs. Do you know what’s wrong with the previous sentence (except for the fact that I did no such thing yesterday)? I used all three of those brand names incorrectly, according to the companies that make them.

You might already know about using Photoshop or LEGOs incorrectly, but iPads? That’s a new one to me. Yesterday, Apple’s own Philip Schiller took to Twitter to settle a dispute that can cause a bit of confusion. Namely, what is the plural of iPad Pro? Is it iPads Pro? iPad Pros? As it turns out, the correct way is “iPad Pro devices.”

Mr. Schiller pointed out that you should never pluralize any Apple product. This goes for the iPad, iPhone, and even a Mac. That’s right, if you have more than one Mac, you should say “I have 3 Macintosh” or “I have 3 Macintosh computers.” Yes folks, Macintosh, much like deer or fish, is plural. Of course, no one has actually said the word Macintosh since the 90s, so it’s a moot point.

Apple isn’t the only company to get weird about how their names are used. Plenty of other companies have gotten huffy at the thought of their names being used improperly. Many dislike their names being used to describe any similar product, such as Kleenex for a facial tissue, and Band-Aid for an adhesive bandage. But here are a few fun ones that you might not know.

Photoshop is a verb that gets used very frequently. Just the millions of people on the PhotoshopBattles subreddit. You may not know it, but Adobe doesn’t take kindly to that usage of their name. In fact, they have an entire page on their website dedicated to their trademark guidelines. They don’t want you to use it as a verb, a noun, or in the possessive form. Remember, instead of saying “The image was Photoshopped” you should say “The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.”

Since I was a child, I loved playing with my LEGOs. I’ve always said it that way, and I pretty much still do. However, LEGO doesn’t appreciate this. For years, if you tried to go to LEGOs.com you would receive a special message from the company letting you know that this is an improper use of their brand name. They remind us that the correct plural form is LEGO bricks, or LEGO toys.

Google is another interesting case, as Merriam-Webster has added an entry for the word “google” in their dictionary. Their entry still specifically states that it means “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web.” The company actually made a blog post back in 2006 to address the concerns about their brand name being used improperly. Essentially, they want to make sure that you’re very clear that when you Google someone, you’re actually using their services.

This is the specific legal text from Apple on never capitalizing the names of its products:

Rules for Proper Use of Apple Trademarks

1. Trademarks are adjectives used to modify nouns; the noun is the generic name of a product or service.

2. As adjectives, trademarks may not be used in the plural or possessive form.

Correct: I bought two Macintosh computers.

Not Correct: I bought two Macintoshes.

Or in terms of the legal guidance from LEGO:

Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site

If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say "MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS". Never say "MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs".Also, the trademark should appear in the same typeface as the surrounding text and should not be isolated or set apart from the surrounding text. In other words, the trademarks should not be emphasized or highlighted. Finally, the LEGO trademark should always appear with a ® symbol each time it is used.

Discussing the specific trademarks used by the games of Go and chess likely makes no sense, because they exist in the common domain and have no trademark holders to enforce any kind of naming. But there are trademark owners of other games who might challenge the pluralization of the names of their games in a fashion similar to Apple and LEGO.

Still, in the domain of the language of games, Go and chess fit in with other such commercial games.

There is no authoritative source I could find that says Go shouldn't be pluralized—but there is also no authoritative source I could find that says it should be pluralized. Can it be pluralized? Certainly. Should it be pluralized? That's a matter of opinion.

So-called grammar rules aside, it's purely a matter of personal style and choice. People can use words as they wish. If the people they're communicating with understand that usage then those words have served their function.

Still, the pluralization of the names of games seems to be something that's mostly done conversationally and seldom in formal writing. Pluralizing the noun Go rather than using other words around it to form a plural is certainly the least common of usage choices. (At least when it comes to writing and filterable game names, this can be shown through various Google Books NGgram Viewer queries.)

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    I've expanded my comment into an answer. – Mark Beadles Nov 8 '18 at 20:43
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    scrabble.merriam.com/finder/gos supports my usage, so I think it's unfair to say that I'm just making it up/using whatever words and diction I want. – Mark Beadles Nov 8 '18 at 21:05
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    @JasonBassford – I believe you meant “authoritative” (a figure of authority) rather than “authoritarian” (a figure insisting on absolute obedience). – Adam Katz Nov 12 '18 at 20:59
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    1. Trademarks are nouns, not adjectives: itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000943.html 2. My own take on the Lego issue: english.stackexchange.com/a/10846/39 – nohat Nov 13 '18 at 20:55
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    @Flonne Aa certainly has meaning in real life if you’re a geologist (though as a non-geologist, I doubt I could confidently distinguish it from pahoehoe or any other type of lava), and as someone who’s edited several volumes on Ancient Egypt, ba and ka are perfectly familiar notions to me as well. And of course, if you’ve ever watched the Home Shopping Network, you must surely have heard of ab crunchers and whatever else they call their various contraptions to get your tummy in shape (and make your wallet significantly lighter). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 13 '18 at 22:40

There is a sense in which one can pluralize Go or other similar nouns. Consider the following sentences:

Go was the first Japanese game widely adopted in the West. Will there be other '/ɡoʊz/' in the future?

Here, "/ɡoʊz/" is used in the sense of "games similar to Go".

A "game/match/round of Go" references a concrete instance of playing the game in question and takes a counter or classifier. But "Go", without a counter, is an abstract noun referring to the milieu and rules within which each instance is played. And this abstract noun can indeed be pluralized, if you are referring to multiple abstractions.

This is similar to asking "Napoleon was a French dictator who started many wars. Will there be other Napoleons in the future?" Here we mean, "people similar to Napoleon", not literally "additional people named Napoleon".

As to how it's spelled, I'd lean toward "Gos" but I don't have good arguments for that vs. "Goes".

Merriam's Scrabble dictionary supports this usage.

GO noun
pl. gos
a Japanese board game

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    Care to explain why use 'oes' instead of 'os' for Go? – Flonne Nov 10 '18 at 8:33
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    @fionnelightberry The question is whether you should use normal pluralization rules for proper nouns. I prefer to and I write Barries rather than Barrys but I know I am in a minority. There is no need to write Goes just because we write gos. But in general both are acceptable. You can have potatoes or potatos. But there is one example I disagree with. Someone has cited Monopolys. That is not a homonym of a word in the dictionary - it is the word in the dictionary as it is a game where you try to establish a monopoly. So I would say the plural has to be Monopolies. – David Robinson Nov 10 '18 at 10:44
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    @nohat As I've looked into this topic fairly recently, here are some counterexamples: "no" = "nos", "hello" = "hellos", "do" = "dos or "do's", "gizmo" = "gizmos", "embryo" = "embryos", "weirdo" = "weirdos", "bandito" = "banditos", also many short words and abbreviations such "photos", "promos", "demos", "autos". According to NGram Viewer "stilletos" is more frequent than "stilletoes", "hobos" and "hoboes" roughly the same frequency, "manifestos" is more frequent than "manifestoes". Most of your examples are borrowed from foreign words like these, from Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Latin etc. – Zebrafish Nov 13 '18 at 20:31
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    @nohat I only brought this up because I wrote an answer fairly recently about the "What's the plural of go as in 'to have a go'". After I wrote the answer at least two people claimed 1) That the rules are consistent, in that borrowed words from other languages end in -os, and the rest are -oes, and 2) That the rules aren't that inconsistent, and that Romance-language derived words end in -os. Since I disagreed with these points I gave counterexamples while comparing many different words trying to find a pattern, and didn't find one. Sorry, I didn't find a rule, but there may be one. – Zebrafish Nov 13 '18 at 20:57
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    @Zebrafish I'm not sure there's a rule either—I think analogy is what most people will turn to in cases like this. I think the weirdest thing about the word "go" is that is a native (non-borrowed) English word that ends in /-oʊ/ and is spelled -o. Almost all native words ending in /-oʊ/ are spelled -ow or -oe. I think a few two-letter words like "go", "no", and "so" are the most common exceptions. – nohat Nov 13 '18 at 21:07

It's probably fine in certain specific informal or spoken contexts.

The names of other board games (and games in general) are pluralized when talking about multiple copies of them, so it shouldn't be any different for Go, at least in informal or spoken contexts. You'll also sometimes hear the plural used when talking about different types of a game.

However, in an even remotely formal context I would suggest avoiding pluralizing "Go" (e.g. by using "games of Go", "Go sets"). I would also avoid it if it's not clear from context that "Go" refers to the game.

The spelling "Gos" is used in other contexts, when referring to video games and gaming systems. I don't really buy the argument of "it looks like it's pronounced differently" since that describes a lot of English.

Here are some examples for plurals of other board games:

Christmas came and Santa blessed us with not only Connect 4, but two Connect 4s.
Connect 4 disconnect

More than 40 million Candy Lands have been sold since Milton Bradley Co. introduced the game in 1949.
Top 10 Board Games

And there, amidst all the Candylands, Clues, Monopolys, Hungry Hungry Hippos and Connect 4s, were these BIG boxes with names like Axis & Allies, Shogun, Fortress America, Conquest of the Empire, Broadsides & Boarding Parties
1988: A Board Game Odyssey

But there are no games, wich combines ALL pieces from these chesses!
All pieces of classic chesses

My guiding conceit was, whenever possible, to draw rules from existing forms of Chess—orthodox chess, the East Asian chesses (Xiang Qi [Chinese chess], Shogi [Japanese chess]), and so forth—and pretend that I was "recreating" the primeval game of chess from which all others emerged: "Ur chess."

First to go was stalemates. In orthodox Chess, if a player has no legal move and his king is not in check, the game is a draw. This is, I feel, somewhat awkward and is not shared by the East Asian chesses.
Varying Chess

A Tale of Two Chesses

I've also found several instances of people talking about plurality of Oculus Gos (although to be fair, some people use "Oculus Go" as a plural):

But, yeah, as much as I’d like that, having two Gos in my household, I‘m not expecting Oculus to do it any time soon.
Question: Is it possible to share a game with a family member who also has a Oculus Go?

I bought Go's for me and friends, but I feel like I'm missing something.

Data Point of the Week: 1.8 Million Oculus Gos Sold This Year?

And one for Pokémon Gos (because why not):

Inside GoMeta’s Plan to Build a Thousand Pokemon Gos

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  • So, what's your take for the question? 'it can' or 'it can't'? – Flonne Nov 10 '18 at 8:34

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