The problem in question is in the following sentence:

The lecture was on the parameters used in the calculation(s) of the DAS28, SDAI, and CDAI.

The last three abbreviations stand for individual indexes or scores, which are calculated using some parameters.

My question is, whether the word "calculation(s)" should be singular or plural. This question is applicable in other contexts, but I can not think of one right now.

Please, if there is a name for this problem, comment and I shall edit the question properly.

If possible, point me to some grammar rules. Thank you for any insight.

  • 2
    Is each index score the result of its own calculation or does a single calculation produce all three indexes? Sep 23, 2022 at 9:57
  • 4
    Either is fine. It depends a bit on the intended meaning. Calculation could be an uncountable noun referring to the general activity of calculating, or it could be a countable noun referring to the individual computations, in which case it would be plural. In effect it makes no difference at all in the sentence you're using (although it might do elsewhere). Sep 23, 2022 at 10:47
  • 1
    Specifically, this involves the use of the distributive singular. See at They're using a cell-phone vs They're using cell-phones. 'Calculation' (= 'working out', not 'workings out') is 'universal' in Rappaport's analysis. So the singular is fine ... but 'calculations' here is also acceptable, if a little strange-sounding ('the calculations of the ...' hints at 'the calculations involved in the ...' to a layperson). May 27, 2023 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


It depends on whether a single calculation produced all three values, or whether there were multiple calculations involved.

  • This seems to be incorrect (or at least misleading). As Araucaria noted in a comment in September, "calculation" (mass noun) could still be correct even if multiple "calculations" (count noun) were involved. May 27, 2023 at 2:18
  • @MarcInManhattan I'm skeptical; I don't think that you could interpret "calculation" as a mass noun in this context. Here it's clearly referring to a specific act of calculating.
    – alphabet
    May 27, 2023 at 5:46
  • I don't see why it couldn't be a mass noun; it simply means the process of calculating. Furthermore, other mass nouns could easily be substituted (management, work, comprehension, etc.). May 27, 2023 at 6:28
  • They are three different calculations describing the same phenomena (disease activity), but they produce three different values. You can think of it as Pearson's and Spearman's correlation coefficient(s?). Both are correlation coefficients and describe the same statistical relationship between data, but both have distinct formulae, different values for the same data, and different sensitivity to specific data characteristics. Aug 1, 2023 at 10:01

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