What is the plural of syntax? Would it be syntacies? What rule would govern this kind of construction?

  • 6
    General reference - there are many "different syntaxes", but only one plural form for the word itself. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 22:19
  • 5
    Related: Which style of Latin plurals should I use? I'd like to specifically quote this passage: "Unless you are absolutely, completely sure you know the correct classical plural, use the English plural. Using the classical plural may have a nice ring to it, but if you get it wrong it's so, so wrong."
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 23:33
  • 2
    Oh, and closing this as general reference because you can just look it up in a dictionary.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 8:46
  • 3
    @RegDwigнt: Neither Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, the OED or the ODO specify any plural for this word, so Wiktionary is quite alone in that trait. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 19:58

2 Answers 2


As FumbleFingers has commented, the plural is syntaxes.

That's probably because the normal plural -es is added to the root word, or it may possibly be because the Greek/Late Latin word from which syntax is derived is syntaxis and Greek words ending in -is are pluralised with -es.

If we were to create a spoof plural for syntax it would be syntaces (words ending -x get -ces; the preceding vowel can change as in index/indices). But no-one uses that, or would know what it meant.


An erroneous plural, which I offer for comparison is:


It has a rough comparability in frequency to the less exotic, more naturally English sounding 'syntaxes'.

ngram comparison of syntaxes and syntagma

This is erroneous as a plural of 'syntax' because it is a linguistic term having to do with rule based things but it is not a word to describe a multiplicity of a collection of rules. 'Syntagma' is a sequence of words that form a syntactic unit (for example, a noun phrase), a -single- syntactic constituent (no rule or rules, the plurality is in the (expected) number of words).

Note: I have no explanation whatsoever of the shifted character of the graphs.

  • 7
    At a guess? Computer Science. In linguistics, you may not need to discuss multiples of a syntax very much, but it is exceedingly common when discussing programming languages, APIs, etc. And here, 'syntaxes' rules the day, being simple and intuitive to English speakers, and English being the lingua franca of CS. Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 8:01

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