Does "software" have a plural form?

Tema en 'English Only' comenzado por marco_bcn, 11 de Mayo de 2005.

  1. marco_bcn Member

    Hi everybody,

    I would like to know if the term "software" could have a plural form (softwares) when speaking about products. That is, if my IT company only has 2 products for sale, can I say "softwares"?

    I must admit it sounds awful to me, but I would really like to know what rule applies here.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. LadyBlakeney

    LadyBlakeney Senior Member

    Hello Marco,

    I am not a native English speaker, so perhaps my input is not the most reliable one. However, I've always come accross the term "software products", and also "software solutions". To me, software is uncountable (Is that correct, people?).
  3. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    you sell software. two specific products :) software is never plural. toss out the sentance that you are struggling with and we'll try and reword it.

    edit- the lady is indeed correct (and quicker too!) :)
  4. marco_bcn Member

    Thanks, it's all clear now.


  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hello Marco,

    Now that it is all clear, let me muddle it for you. Lawyers, those strange creatures from outer space, sometimes use a plural form: softwares. It sounds awful to me. Nonetheless they do it.

    Here is a painful example:

  6. LadyBlakeney

    LadyBlakeney Senior Member

    Well, almighty lawyers do make grammar mistakes sometimes! They are fallible, just like humans are ;).
  7. AverageJoe Member

    U.S.A: American English
    There are some interesting phrases such as that use words such as 'softwares', for example, the word persons is often used on the maxium people signs, "No more than 50 persons,etc."

    I always thought that software was the singluar AND the plural(as weird as that may seems)

    For example:

    The company sells software (Could mean one program, could mean 50)

    The company sells many different types of software. (Definitely plural, although the word software is used.)
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Shall we adjourn this conversation to the Jokes thread?

    Worse than the plural, lawyers often speak of "a software" rather than a software product or a software application.

  9. germinal

    germinal Senior Member

    Bradford, England
    England English

    I'm no grammarian but isn't software neither singular nor plural but a class?

    Similar words are: Housing, Tableware, cutlery, furniture, Etc.

    Germinal :)
  10. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    If software is a class, it doesn't have many members: programs, operating systems... Um... In any case, it's a non-countable noun, so it's treated as being singular.
  11. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    To prove Garry's point, some of the more common programs and operating systems are singularly awful.:rolleyes:
  12. marco_bcn Member

    Thanks again for your replies. Anyway, it's still clear to me. Now "softwares" sounds even worse than before. I'll definitely avoid it in the future.

  13. marget Senior Member

    Can software ever used in the plural in English or would one have to say several software programs?


    Moderator note: the thread beginning with this question has been combined with an older thread on the same subject.
  14. Nijan

    Nijan Senior Member

    Italian, Italy - Salerno
    I'd use the word software with attention. "Softwares" is used, but in my opinion always badly used. You should use this word only to refer to the category of "computer programs", not to programs themselves and probably only in contrast to hardware. For this reason I would'nt use it with the plural form. I think the best word that suits your needs is "applications".
  15. hly2004 Banned

    I type "softwares" when using Microsoft Word application. It indicates the word is spelt wrongly.
  16. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    I'm afraid that "software", "hardware", "kitchenware" and any other "-ware" are uncountable because they're mass nouns. It's like you don't add an "s" with "mail"(AE), which means "letterS" in BE.
  17. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I have seen it used as a plural (uncountable or not) but only in legal briefs and patent applications written in AE. It is not idiomatic in standard AE.
  18. pietro79 New Member

    I disagree. Just because a noun can be used in an uncountable sense doesn't mean it always has to be. (The power of numbering as a concept is that you can make anything plural!)

    What I mean is, software, hardware, kitchenware, mail, water... you can pluralize any of those if you intend to mean several different bodies of ____, each a slightly different type. Like different species within the same family. The freeware, shareware, and open-source softwares don't require me to spend any money, unlike the software I get at the big box store. The waters of this country's interior are polluted.
  19. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    I'm sorry, but this is still an error. While some normally-uncountable nouns can be used in the plural, such as the poetic "the sands of time," that is not true of all of them. There is no such word as "softwares," even if you are discussing different types of software. "Freeware, shareware and open-source software don't require..." would be correct here (without the article).
  20. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English

    "Softwares" is just as wrong today as it was seven years ago in this thread you dredged up.

    "Waters" is irrelevant.
  21. dgmsatx New Member

    Lawyers do not speak English, they speak Legal. You would not say "silverwares drawer" nor "aircrafts carrier". Lawyers would say aircrafts to denote all or several of them, even though English majors would think they sound horribly backward. That is an example of language used inside a profession that should not be used outside of it.
  22. EconProfessor New Member

    It depends.
    1. If you are writing a literally piece for an English literature course then using "Softwares" would be wrong . However, if you are a writer of say James Joyce caliber then, of course, you can use it -- and it will be considered quite smart of you to do so.
    2. If you are trying to communicate a technical text in economics, law, computer science and so on, then not using 'softwares' would be a grave error some of the times, and a rather costly error most of the times, because by using a combination like "software products" or "software applications" you're using an extra word that may confuse the subject and/or crowd out the explanatory precision of the text, reducing the sharpness and clarity of your exposition.
    3. There are areas of mathematics and philosophy that you have to use Software in a plural form as already noted by a participanat.

    Necesse est enim cum id quod scimus loquimur, ut ex ipsa scientia quam memoria tenemus, nascatur verbum, quod eiusmodi sit omnino cuiusmodi est illa scientia de qua nascitur.​

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