Kindly Analyze our Analysis Analysis

A friend’s blog read “viewers of the movie would have to go through analyses to find any emotional…”

I was trying to explain that one must use the term ‘analysis’ in lieu of the above (in addition to perhaps rephrasing it altogether but that is besides the point). Interestingly enough, Microsoft Word indicates that ‘analyses’ is a synonym to ‘analysis’.

Consequently I’m quite perplexed.

Would it be equally correct to say

“John and Sarah in their analyses of the evidence determined…”
*as oppososed to *
“John and Sarah in their analysis of the evidence determined…” says:
Main Entry: anal·y·sis
Pronunciation: &-'na-l&-s&s
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural anal·y·ses .


I assume that by “go through analyses” your friend meant that viewers would need psychoanalysis. In that case I would say, “go through analysis.” While it’s true that each viewer would need separate psychoanalysis, I think it’s unnecessary and confusing to pluralize it to “analyses.”

I can think of similar examples where one wouldn’t pluralize the noun. If you see a bunch of kids at a mall during school hours, you wouldn’t ask, “Why aren’t you kids in classes?” (Even though each kid might belong in a different class.) A judge doesn’t “throw the books” at a group of convicted criminals.

In each of these cases the phrase in question is an idiom - a fixed set of words used to mean a particular thing. Pluralizing the noun in the phrase breaks the idiom.

The first case indicates that John and Sarah each did a separate analysis. The second case indicates that John and Sarah worked together on a single analysis.

In my line of work we use “analyses” in the plural. “Analysis” is singular. For example, if John and Jane both ran a dam breach analysis seprately, then combined the two for a report, the report should state “The analyses”. If only one reports then it’s “analysis”.

Correct answers. ‘Analysis’ is singular, ‘analyses’ is its plural. This works the same way as with several other nouns ending with -is, for example axis/axes, basis/bases and oasis/oases. These all follow a certain pluralization form from Latin third declension, which particular form (singular nominative -is) was relatively rare for nouns but more common for adjectives (third declension has other pluralizations too, and all together they account for a majority of Latin words). While ‘analysis’ is originally a Greek word, it comes through Latin and follows its patterns.

Well, my first piece of advice is to ignore everything Microsoft Word says about language. It’s an unreliable source.

“Analyses” is the plural of “analysis”. As with any singular-noun/plural-noun pair, it is possible to construct sentences in which both are grammatical:

  1. I saw the tree.

  2. I saw the trees.

Big deal. And note the difference in meaning between the two sentences. What further complicated the matter in the case of “analysis”, however, is that “analysis” can be both a count noun and a mass noun. As a rule of thumb, a mass noun is a noun that can go with “how much”. A count noun is a noun that can be pluralized:

3a) How much stuff do you want? (stuff - mass noun)
3b) How many stuffs do you want? (no good: stuff - not a count noun)

4a) How much furniture was there? (furniture - mass noun)
4b) How many furnitures were there? (no good: furniture - not a count noun)

5a) How much dog was at the park? (no good: dog - not a mass noun)
5b) How many dogs were at the park (dog - count noun)

The interesting thing about some nouns is that they can function both as count nouns and as mass nouns. “Analysis” is an example of this:

6a) How much analysis of the data did you do? (analysis - mass noun)
6b) How many analyses of the data did you do? (analysis - count noun)

So in your friend’s sentence, “viewers of the movie would have to go through analyses to find any emotional…”, “analyses” is obviously being used as a count noun, since it’s plural. Your correction to “…have to go through analysis to find…” would give it a mass-noun interpretation. Because “analysis” can be both a count noun and a mass noun, there is not too big a difference in meaning between these two formulations.

In regard to your two example sentences:

It was suggested:

Not necessarily. In the first case, maybe John and Sarah both did a bunch of analyses together. But I agree that in the second case, John and Sarah necessarily worked together.