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Quand faut-il mettre un pluriel après un mot indiquant l'absence d'un élément?

I've always wondered, should one pluralize nouns when the count of the particular item is 0, but there is a clear possibility of having more? Here is an example:

Il y a deux sites web.
Il y a un site web.
Il y a zéro sites web.

It seems to me that only when the count is 1 that the noun shouldn't be pluralized, but I might be wrong. I also recently read an article for programming a pluralization function (albeit for English) that talked about the same rule.

I am French Canadian if it makes any difference.

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2  
    
I, the question asker, would say it's a perfect duplicate. I searched in english, that's why I didn't find it. This is an interesting problem for this site I suppose. –  Xeon06 Sep 13 '11 at 14:54
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marked as duplicate by Evpok Sep 21 '11 at 22:11

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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

According to the plural forms definition from gnu, the plural form for French language is for everything > 1 (0 and 1 are not pluralized).

Everything below 2 is not pluralized in French language, in case of non-integer counting, you will write 1,5 objet not 1,5 objets.

Two forms, singular used for zero and one Exceptional case in the language family. The header entry would be:

Plural-Forms: nplurals=2; plural=n>1;

Languages with this property include:

  • Romanic family: Brazilian Portuguese, French

In English, only 1 is not pluralized, 0 and n > 1 are pluralized.

Two forms, singular used for one only This is the form used in most existing programs since it is what English is using. A header entry would look like this:

Plural-Forms: nplurals=2; plural=n != 1;

Languages with this property include:

  • Germanic family: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Faroese
  • Romanic family: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian
  • Latin/Greek family: Greek
  • Finno-Ugric family: Finnish, Estonian
  • Semitic family: Hebrew
  • Artificial: Esperanto
  • Finno-Ugric family: Hungarian
  • Turkic/Altaic family: Turkish
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Now, that's some one unusual reference :) –  F'x Sep 13 '11 at 14:50
    
It's unusual but relates very directly to my problem. +1. –  Xeon06 Sep 13 '11 at 14:51
1  
@F'x : right ;) But this is the one I used for many translation problems (in software development) –  Cédric Julien Sep 13 '11 at 14:54
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This is fine for integers, but for decimals 1.5 should be singular as well –  Shlublu Sep 14 '11 at 7:59
1  
@Shlublu : you're right, I edit my answer –  Cédric Julien Sep 14 '11 at 8:02
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In French we use the singular for all quantity that is below 2. This means that even 1.5, for us, is singular:

Il y a deux sites web.
Il y a un site web.
Il y a zéro site web.
Il y a un site web et demi (si le second n'est pas fini :)).

Ou encore

Il y a 2 sites web.
Il y a 1 site web.
Il y a 0 site web.
Il y a 1,5 site web.

More details here (first section of the document).

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1  
J'ai appris à lire il y a 1,5 site web comme il y a un site web et demi, ce qui explique peut-être la règle. –  Un francophone Sep 13 '11 at 15:05
    
Sans doute oui. Pareil en ce qui me concerne. –  Shlublu Sep 13 '11 at 15:09
    
En passant un site web n'est pas fractionnable. –  Knu Jun 15 '13 at 15:36
    
Ça, ça dépend du prestataire. –  Shlublu yesterday
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