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Plural patterns

By on June 7, 2017

piggy In English, we say 1 pig, 2 pigs, 3 pigs and so on.

So, does it follow that in another language it should be
1 [insert translated word for pig], 2 [insert translated plural of pig], 3 [same again] and so on?

Nope!

Earlier this month we worked on a project for one of our clients, a customer review network, which reinforced the fact that plural usage can vary greatly between languages. For this particular project, the translation source text included two snippets of text, one of which had a variable:
1 review
Showing {{number}} reviews

As the translation was into 27 languages, we saw many different patterns. We found this really interesting, and wanted to share them with you.


In Hungarian and Turkish, numbers are followed by singular nouns: 1 review, 2 review, 5 review. However, when not following a number, the plural for reviews is used.

In Russian, the plural forms of review depend on the number before the word. Here is the pattern:

2-3-4 отзыва
5-20 отзывов
21, 31, 41 etc отзыв
22-23-24, 32-33-34 etc отзыва
25-30, 35-40 etc отзывов

In Slovak, Czech and Polish, there is one plural form for 2,3 or 4, and a different form for numbers 5 and greater.

In Arabic, for numbers from 3 to 10 it is written in the plural form مراجعات . From 11 onward it is written in the singular form مراجعة except in numbers like 103:109, 203:209 etc. If there are only 2 then it is written as مراجعتين or مراجعتان depending on its position in the sentence.

These languages were from within the set of 27 for this client, but there are certainly other languages out there with interesting patterns. Tweet us if you know of anything more complicated than Russian or Arabic! @WebTranslations

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