help when 'Plural' syntax is not accepted

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Sounds good now; in french 0 or 1 follow the same way, 2 and over start plural, so according to the number of books on the shelf you say

Il n'y avait aucun livre   sur l'étagère. 
Il   y avait zéro  livre   sur l'étagère.
Il   y avait un    livre   sur l'étagère.
Il   y avait deux  livres  sur l'étagère. 

Thanks; done.

ChristianW (talk)21:04, 26 March 2020

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Return to Thread:Support/help when 'Plural' syntax is not accepted/reply (4).


The "zero" case can be treated specially in French: if you use a number in the translation, treat it as singular only.

But like in English, the message can also use the negation if the number is spelled in a sentence like "Il n'y avait aucun livre" or "il n'y a pas de livre" where sometimes such negative form implies a plural for the noun, depending on the meaning of the noun: "Il n'y a pas de livres" is also correct with the plural, applicable only to enumeratable things, and means "not one and not even more than one").

So the "zero" case may be added optionally to any translation, in addition to the 1st (singular) and 2nd (plural) forms.
This "zero" case should not be used at all if the number is displayed with digits as "0", which must be treated with the singular.

For some sentences where the number is a small integer quantity, you can specialize the translation to spell that number instead of formatting it with digits. This would apply only if the maximum number is small and spelled as a single word (0 treated specially with the "zero" case, or other integers from 1 to 16, or one of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 and 1000, each using a special case for these values and nàot depending on the default plural rules even if grammatical French rules still apply to these numbers: 1 may be special-cased but the translation should use a singular form for nouns, adjectives and verbs, all other special cases should use the plural form); all other values should be formatted using digits and the standard French plural rules:

  • if abs(n) <= 1 (including n=0.5 or n=0 or n=-1), then use the singular (1st form, used by default)
  • if abs(n) > 1 (including n=1.5 or when n is infinite), then use the plural (2nd form if it's specified, otherwise display the 1st mandatory form)
  • if n is unknown/unspecified, then use the plural (2nd form if it's specified, optional otherwise display the 1st mandatory form) without writing any number

Note that the 2nd form is also optional in French translations, as it may be the same when the form is grammatically invariant in some cases. For example,

  • "1 face" vs. "2 faces" (because the noun "face" has no mute mark of the plural in its singular form, you need a second form to mark the plural)
  • "1 dos" vs. "2 dos" (because the noun "dos" is already terminated by a mute "s" which then remains invariant in the plural)
  • Such cases with invariant grammatical plurals also occur in English (but much more rarely than in French, as English will most often repeat the 's' by inserting an extra non-muted 'e' pronounced as a schwa before this added 's' for its semi-regular forms of plural marks: "1 boss" vs. "2 bosses", but in French the borrowed term boss would remain invariant: "2 boss" because the French term "bosse(s)" is completely unrelated).
  • Invariant grammatical plurals also occurs in almost all languages with abbreviated units of measurement ("1 m" vs. "2 m"), and some translations may prefer using common abbreviations with a single translated form, rather than translating several plural forms: "1 meter" vs. "2 meters" in English, "1 mètre" vs. "2 mètres" in French.
  • Marking the plural in French for terms borrowed from other language is variable and depends on usage: you may use the normal French rules for derivation ("1 pizzaïolo" vs. "2 pizzaïolos", this is generally preferred) or the derivation from the original language ("2 pizzaïoli" from the Italian term, except this is generally not acceptable here as the orthographic term was already modified in French with the diaeresis in the singular, and this singular form should be the base for forming a regular plural), but the choice of marking the singular or plural must still use the French rules ("0 pizzaïolo" : must be singular). Another example (more acceptable): "2 misses" (irregular plural form taken from the English noun "miss(es)" for a woman borrowed as is, but not that we'll still write "0 miss" in French with the singular form chosen, vs. "0 misses" in English with the plural form chosen).

But if you add some other terms in the translation, you may see the difference of plural form in dependant adjectives or verbs that require marking the singluar or plural distinctly:

  • "1 dos courbé" vs. "2 dos courbés" : now you need the two forms in translations
  • "1 dos se courbe" vs. "2 dos se courbent" : now you need the two forms in translations
  • "1 dos à courber" vs. "2 dos à courber" : one form remains sufficient in translations; the verb "courber" is invariant as an infinitive as it has no subject with which to match a number); if you translate the second form, it should be identical to the 1st form intended for singular, also used by default.

If n is a rational fraction, and the full fraction is specified as the explicit numeric values of the numerator and of the denominator (like "⅘") the plural is marked in French only the term for the denominator but then the unit that follows is using the singular form when it is preceded by the preposition "de" according on this fraction: "½ litre" but "10/20 de litre", "¾ de litre". The French rule is:

  • if the absolute denominator is 2, don't use the preposition, but match the plural with the absolute numerator; the French term for the denominator "2" is the adjective "demi-" which is invariant before the noun it qualifies and attached to it by an hyphen: ("demi-" is prefered to the alternate ordinal "2e(s)=deuxième(s)" which is also possible and whose plural varies according to the numerator, but which is almost never used)
    "½ litre" = "1 demi-litre" (= "10/20 de litre" = "10 vingtièmes de litre"): the denominator is 2, so no preposition and then the numerator 1 is singular, so after "demi-", the "litre" will be singular.
    "3/2 litres" = "trois demi-litres": the numerator is 2, so no preposition and then the numerator 3 is plural, so after "demi-", the "litres" will be plural.
  • if the absolute denominator is not 2, use the preposition "de" before the singular noun;
    • the fraction may be spelled using ordinal numbers as nouns for the denominator: "3/12e(s) de litre" or "3 douxièmes de litres" ; when the denominator is spelled, it takes its plural form according to the numerator); The form "3/12e(s)" with an explicit ordinal mark including its own plural mark is needed (either use a suffix preferably in superscript, or use a more compact typographic fraction like "¾" without any suffix and without even any preposition "de" before the noun); the terms for fractional ordinals however are a bit different from rank ordinals, for these two denominators 3 and 4:
      "3s" or "tiers" (numerically invariant) for fractional ordinals, instead of the normal ordinal "3e" or "troisième" only used for (invariant) ranks.
      "4t(s)" or "quart(s)" (numerically variable according to the numerator) for fractional ordinals, instead of the normal ordinal "4e" or "quatrième" only used for (invariant) ranks
    • the fraction may also be spelled using a cardinal number for the denominator and if so the noun after it will follow the denominator: "3/12 litres"="3 sur 12 litres" (plural according to the denominator 12), or better, if you can, the units may be placed before the numerator from which it will match its plural: "3 litres/12"="3 litres sur 12" (plural according to the numerator 3)
    • This means that "¾ de litre" = "3/4ts de litre" = "3 quarts de litre" is correct (litre is singular after "de"), but also "3/4 litres" ("litres" is then plural according to the numerator 3): you cannot use the typographic "¾" and the legacy "3/4" interchangeably. But you can use the typographic "¾ de" and the legacy "3/4 de" interchangeably (with a singular noun).

These rules are almost identical in English (using the preposition "of") which also has specific terms for a few common fractional ordinals (always "half"/"halves", rarely "tier(s)", frequent "quarter(s)") used instead of ordinals for ranks (never "second(s)", most frequent "third(s)", frequent "fourth(s)", ).

However, using rational fractions is still not supported as distinct cases in translations for now, because there's no key for them. They may be used only for specific fractions that are exact as decimal numbers (fractions whose denominator is decomposable in a product of powers of 2 and 5, for which the plural case key would its decimal value as a single non-integer with a limited precision (0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 0.125, etc.); this could work with some translation libraries offering the support for non-integer values of keys n, or offering support for rational keys with the form m/n.

Verdy p (talk)00:28, 28 April 2020