Vote Down requires 125 reputation

Shouldn't it be "reputations"? Why or why not?

  • Whom did you try to down-vote? ;) Jul 27, 2012 at 14:05
  • 5
    No-one seems to be saying exactly what seems obvious to me - in OP's context, it's just an abbreviated version of "reputation points". Just because the actual noun (points) isn't explicitly stated doesn't mean we have to treat the (effectively adjectival) reputation as a "pseudo-noun" requiring plural inflection. Jul 27, 2012 at 14:29
  • 2
    This question obviously polarises opinions (it's currently got 5 upvotes and 4 downvotes). Two points arising: a) I think it's disappointing not one of those 4 downvoters added a comment explaining their reasoning; b) I've raised the issue on meta as Should ELU offer more guidance on Question Downvoting? Jul 27, 2012 at 17:58
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    @FumbleFingers I think many of the downvotes were cast because of my less than stellar original title of the question "Is this sentence correct". Since I've been using SE for over three years now, I can understand that this was indeed not a good title. At the lowest point I saw it had a total of -3 points. As a result of KitFox correcting the title many other upvoters stepped in to "undo" the downvotes from others - a phenomenon frequently observable on SE sites. Jul 27, 2012 at 20:27
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    As far as I know, the users won't get a notification if a downvoted question was edited. So while your reasoning seems plausible, I think it's unlikely. Jul 28, 2012 at 6:56

3 Answers 3


Reputation in this instance is being used as a mass noun, and mass nouns do not normally take a plural. It is somewhat unusual in this case that there is no count noun to serve as the measure word, i.e. we don't say "125 points of reputation" by analogy with "125 grains of rice". Nonetheless, the formulation given above is what is normal and idiomatic for this scenario.

There are other words which exhibit this same pattern:

  • Getting to level two requires 5000 experience.
  • The Vorpal Sword costs 300 gold.

All of the examples that come to mind here are related to technology or gaming. I don't know if this is an actual trend, or just selection bias based on what's in my brain.

  • 3
    I'm going to disagree that the case with Reputation is the same as the video-game case for "gold". In the video game the units are arbitray, so saying "coins" is not helpful. In the case of "reputation" you have one reputation, but it is measured in "points". The sentence as shown is either wrong, or more charitably, a short-form, which is allowed because people are forgiving when it comes to computer user interfaces messages. Jul 27, 2012 at 14:14
  • In the first example experience is simply a shorthand for experience points.
    – user14070
    Jul 27, 2012 at 18:53
  • @Mr.ShinyandNew安宇 I disagree that it is short form, I believe it is as a result of how reputation is used on Stack Exchange - as a currency. Jul 27, 2012 at 18:56
  • Well, a commodity at any rate Jul 27, 2012 at 19:06
  • I think this is hopelessly wrong! "Mass noun" - a noun that normally cannot be counted. "Reputation" is an attribute - a characteristic or quality of a thing, that happens to be capable of being "graded" by number. No different to "miles per gallon", say, except there we always specify the units. Or "star" (5 star movie, 4 star hotel, 2 star general) where the unit is assumed, but context-specific. In OP's usage, 125 is just the adjectival quantifier for the assumed unit "reputation points". Jul 28, 2012 at 0:43

Reputation is not the unit, its the object being quantified. Technically, it would be

Vote Down requires 125 points of reputation

But this is awkward and we all understand that reputation is an arbitrary number with no real unit. Saying "How much reputations do you have" would be akin to saying "how much strengths do you have" or "how much sauces do you have?"

  • I can't quite go with that. The object being modified is the implicit [ammassed collection of] points. Which is also modified by the adjective "reputation", telling us which particular kind of "points" we're talking about here. Jul 28, 2012 at 0:47

Well it looks like you can say reputations :

The book investigates how reputations historically have been made and un-made (from a study 'Surveillance & Society' by Daniel Neyland Oxford University)

  • 3
    Here, you're using it to mean many people's reputations. Each person still has his own reputation, not reputations. Reputation is a common noun in your sentence, whereas it is an abstract noun in the OP's sentence Jul 27, 2012 at 14:18
  • 1
    sorry.. I thought the question was the plural of reputation...Indeed in every language, not only english, one person has his own reputation
    – mlwacosmos
    Jul 27, 2012 at 14:22
  • @mlwacosmos, the flip side of "one person has his own reputation" is "most people don't have their own reputations"; ie "each person..." may be what you meant. Jul 27, 2012 at 17:49

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