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Taking it as a given that the system is not intelligent enough to be able to recognise a single result as apposed to multiple results (don't ask!), what is the correct way to represent the possibility of either from a grammatical perspective? I've always taken it as a given that placing an 'S' within brackets is correct, however, someone has suggested this is grammatically incorrect, and that the 'S' should be preceeded by a forward slash. e.g.

  • A.

    • 1 matching result(s)
    • 100 matching result(s)
  • or B.

    • 1 matching result/s
    • 100 matching result/s

As mentioned above, ideally the system would be smart enough to recognise the difference and display the message accordingly (1 matching result, 100 matching results), but until this can be resolved technically we have to answer the problem with content.

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That would depend on the language you're targeting, I'd say. –  André Mar 6 '13 at 11:04
The only problem with the user experience here would be if the user was dogmatic about their grammar, and they'd have to be pretty dogmatic if this bothered them. Either is fine in my opinion, both have been used for years. Im keen to see if there even is a grammatically correct way to do this. –  Chris Paynter Mar 6 '13 at 11:12
Yes I agree that it doesn't have a massive impact on the user experience, although my opinion was that the latter was slightly more jarring. Also, the users of the app are predominantly analytical people so unfortunately are likely to spot questionable grammar! –  paulseys Mar 6 '13 at 11:29
@ChrisPaynter I'm such a 'pretty dogmatic' person. So the odds of meeting such a person aren't overly small. –  11684 Mar 6 '13 at 19:58
Ok, so in terms of using an app where the grammar in question was this situation as opposed to body text in a blog article, would this bother you to the point where it diminishes your experience with the app? Which solution would you prefer? –  Chris Paynter Mar 6 '13 at 22:24

3 Answers 3

I vote A. I read the result/s initially as result per second.

Result(s) seems more natural, but I would prefer the option were you'd detect if the number is larger than 1 and change result to results.

Maybe take a look here: english.stackexchange here the (s) seems to be the standard.

Another option is to put it like this:

Matching results: 1

With this option the need to add/remove the 's' seems not as important as with your options.

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Yeah that's a great bandaid for this particular scenario, it reads way better than a grammatical hack. –  Chris Paynter Mar 6 '13 at 11:16
I like this solution too, although the 'matching results' example was just that, an example, but I appreciate the solution and think, in the context of the example it's probably the best one. –  paulseys Mar 6 '13 at 11:37

If you are using English, then the most common way is option A. 100 matching result(s).

However I would strongly discourage using this, as it makes it very difficult to internationalise your application. I would suggest finding a way of wording it that does not require a reference to a singular or plural noun. I would rather use:

Matching results: 100


Results: 100 matching

or if it's clear by the layout that they are results, simply

100 matching

This gives the focus to the number, which is most important, and not to the word "result". Android has adopted a similar method, and is has shown to be easily understood and easily internationalised.

enter image description here

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Why would the "reults(s)" approach be more difficult to localize than the other approaches? To me it seems that all variants have identical code, and differ only in the localizable strings anyway. –  oefe Mar 6 '13 at 20:37
@oefe because grammar varies greatly between languages, and a simple suffix is not enough to neatly show what you can with result(s) in English. –  JohnGB Mar 6 '13 at 20:46
I don't get that. Choosing the (s) approach for the English localization doesn't mean that the localizations for other languages have to follow the same approach. The can still choose whatever fits best their language. This could well be one of the approaches that you listed. –  oefe Mar 6 '13 at 21:19
@oefe Try use that method in Indonesian. It would look something like: hasil(hasil), which is just nasty. Or French where you need an article 'la' for a feminin noun, and an article 'les' for plurals, as well as the addition of (usually) an 's'. It is not so simple. –  JohnGB Mar 6 '13 at 21:28
why? If the Indonesians decide that it looks better if the write "hasil: 100", that's no problem. The whole point of localization is to use what's best for the particular language. –  oefe Mar 6 '13 at 21:35

I've always seen A used and even in non UI contexts. In legal docs / contracts etc. A is the option of choice I say. OTOH I do agree that either way it won't be too bad.

Option B would be more suitable for something like fire-man/woman context indicating an alternative not an optional construct.

I'll say though that personally these fine touches are a big part of what I think about a product. A UI that throws "Choose any products from the following 1 results" is jarring and causes me to suspect how other (more important) details were implemented in the product.

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