Text - plural?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by oprah, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. oprah Senior Member

    I looked this word up in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, and it did not list a plural form for it. Does that mean that there isn't a plural form?

    Would it be correct to use text instead of texts in the following sentence?

    Users are challenged by the need to efficiently read long texts or handle multiple tasks simultaneously on the screens.

  2. laurita5 Senior Member

    Boston, USA
    USA- English
    I'm not sure why the plural wasn't listed. The plural of text is texts so I would say use it with an s. It doesn't make sense if you leave it in the singular when you mean plural. Maybe the plural wasn't included because it is regular. They might only list irregular plurals because the spelling changes.
  3. oprah Senior Member

    Okay, then I will use "texts." Thanks! It is odd that it wasn't listed, because other regular forms have the plural listed.
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't think most people read "texts" on the screen. "Texts" (in the singular/plural sense), as I understand the word, would be works in their entirety, such as an entire master's thesis or a novel. I would not say that someone who had read several different columns in a newspaper or several different web pages had read "texts." The other sense of "texts" to me is in the comparison of two individual documents for discrepancies.

    In this context you've provided here, I would use "long text", not "long texts."
  5. oprah Senior Member

    Thanks, JamesM, for your detailed explanation.
  6. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    I'm going to have to disagree with JamesM.

    There's no natural implication of length in the word 'text.' In religious usage, sermons of great length are regularly made in explication of Biblical 'texts' of no more the four or five words. Five short articles on five different subjects would constitute five texts. To imply that they constitute one text, or one meta-text, would require some serious reaching.

    On the other hand, 'text' can be used in the general sense of 'words,' in which case any number of things of no matter the length--- entire libraries--- can be defined generically as 'text.'
  7. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I can agree with you from a logical, theoretical point, but from a practical standpoint would you actually say "I read five texts today" and mean you read five columns in a newspaper or five articles in a magazine? I still contend that "texts" are separate, distinct items of some kind when used in everyday speech, not appearing in some collection like a website, a newspaper, or a magazine. Do you disagree?
  8. MissFit

    MissFit Senior Member

    This context is not enough to be certain. It all depends on exactly what is being displayed on the screen. It could refer to the words on a web page--as opposed to the pictures and other elements. In that case, I would write "lots of text" or "large blocks of text" instead of "long texts."

    "Texts" could also refer to electronic books (e-books) which are entire books stored digitally and read on a computer screen of some sort." In that case, "long texts" is the right choice.
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Good point, MissFit. I think "large blocks of text" works much better than "long text(s)."

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