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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.


2 Answers 2


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
  • 3
    Now, that's some one unusual reference :)
    – F'x
    Sep 13, 2011 at 14:50
  • It's unusual but relates very directly to my problem. +1.
    – Xeon06
    Sep 13, 2011 at 14:51
  • 1
    @F'x : right ;) But this is the one I used for many translation problems (in software development) Sep 13, 2011 at 14:54
  • 1
    This is fine for integers, but for decimals 1.5 should be singular as well
    – Shlublu
    Sep 14, 2011 at 7:59
  • 1
    @Shlublu : you're right, I edit my answer Sep 14, 2011 at 8:02

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).

  • 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. Sep 13, 2011 at 15:05
  • Sans doute oui. Pareil en ce qui me concerne.
    – Shlublu
    Sep 13, 2011 at 15:09
  • En passant un site web n'est pas fractionnable.
    – Knu
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:36
  • Ça, ça dépend du prestataire.
    – Shlublu
    Apr 23, 2014 at 8:55
  • @Knu Il y a un vigule cinq million d'années, alors... Jan 10, 2018 at 17:09

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