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Math vs. maths

Math and maths are equally acceptable abbreviations of mathematics. The only difference is that math is preferred in the U.S. and Canada, and maths is preferred in the U.K., Australia, and most other English-speaking areas of the world.

Neither abbreviation is correct or incorrect. You may hear arguments for one being superior to the other, and there are logical cases for both sides. One could argue maths is better because mathematics ends in s, and one could argue math is better because mathematics is just a mass noun that happens to end in s. In any case, English usage is rarely guided by logic, and these usage idiosyncrasies are often arbitrary. If you were raised in a part of the world where people say maths, then maths is correct for you, and the same is of course true of math. Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise.

Examples

North America


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Math is the strong suit of students at the Ward Elementary School, where 50 percent of third grade students scored “advanced.” [Boston Globe]

Math professors are appalled at the lack of math skills they see in some education students … [Winnipeg Free Press]

Apollo paid less than $100 million to acquire Carnegie Learning, a provider of computer-based math tutorials. [The Atlantic]

Outside North America

It lasted a long 40 minutes, which is how I remember maths lessons. [Financial Times (U.K.)]

But scratch below the surface and you’ll find the maths is seriously flawed. [Sydney Morning Herald]

The Government has been under pressure from business and employer groups to boost standards in maths. [Irish Times]

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Comments

  1. tomo008866 says:

    I don’t say ‘Mathematic’, therefore, I don’t say ‘Math’, which sounds pretty stupid to begin with.

  2. I’ve recently switched to saying maths (about a year ago, actually), but when I try to reason with people, they just tell me that it’s math because it just is. -.-, they don’t even try.

    • You must be American. If you live in the States, speak how the general populace does. No need for that sort of posturing to try to sound more educated.

    • My name is Thomas. I go by Tom. I don’t generally go by Toms.

      • The difference is ‘Mathematics’ doesn’t just happen to end in an ‘s’. Mathematics is plural, but often used as a singular noun too.

        • Raysg as rs says:

          Mathematics is not plural it is singular. Mathematics is the study of x not all the things dealing with x.

          • The Daily Squirrel says:

            Mathematics, Genetics, Astrophysics – are these all singular?

          • The rule should be whether the word can be used in another grammatical fashion such as an adjective, you wouldn’t say mathematic model you would say mathematical model. You wouldn’t say mathematic for the field of study you would say mathematics. If you said “climate changes” instead of climate change it makes climate the actor and changes a verb. And you would not say climate sciences because climate science is not confusing. But in a university curriculum guide there are many “sciences” under the College of Science. When in doubt consult with the “Chicago Manual of Style”; Strunk & White’s, “Elements of Style”; Wilson Follett’s “Modern American Usage”; and, Joseph Williams, “Style Toward Clarity and Grace.” Among others, note placement of punctuation relative to closing quotations.

          • Brett Yarberry says:

            yes, they only seem “plural” when used as adjectives.

        • teitake says:

          Mathematics is not plural. You yourself don’t use the word as plural but as singular: “Mathematics is plural.” The verb “is” signifies its singularity in Eglish language. You never say, “Mathematics are fun.” You don’t say, “Maths are fun.” You never say “1 mathmatic,” or “1 physic,” or “1 linguistic.”
          Hippo is the correct abbreviation for Hippopotamus; hippos is not.

          • When he said “Mathematics is plural”, what he meant was “[the word] mathematics is plural”. Similarly, when you say “Mathematics is fun” you’re saying “[studying/using] mathematics is fun”. Finally, since mathematics, physics and linguistics indicate a collection of several topics, each of those words indicates a plural idea.

          • Ivan Nicholas Barakoff says:

            Regardless if its plural, the UK love sticking in the last letter in the abbreviation; an “s”.

            Talking of “inventing” a word, further down – the Latin origin is: “mathematica” (singular) and mathematicae (plural).

            So the US can keep “Math” but I do tell my UK chums (so to honor their hero Isaac Newton) to call it “Matha” or “Mathe”… :)

          • But scratch below the surface and you’ll find the maths is seriously flawed.

            [Sydney Morning Herald]

            In your example, the verb “is” agrees with a singular noun.

      • Please Delete Me Let Me Go says:

        The plural of Thomas is Thomases. A group of Thomases could be called a group of Toms, not a group of Tom.

      • meenakshi says:

        Dude it’s just an abbreviation! Why the fuss? The reason you don’t go by Toms is probably because Tom is a popular nickname for ppl named Thomas… You could call yourself Toms and the world could care less.

      • Chinmaya Nagpal says:

        Well, English is the language first spoken in by the English (people), so what they say should be proper English. ‘Math’ is right.

        • If you’ve ever been to England, you’d realize how many English people speak horrible English. The population with the best spoken English is in the Northeastern US.
          Math is right because that’s what’s used in the USA- which interestingly, is not called the US’s of A. Another example is Econ, short for Economics. No one calls it Econs.

          • “It’s right because that is what’s used in the USA.” Totally sound logic there…

          • And in the case of the subject “statistics”, nobody contracts it to “stats”, either. They call it “stat”, of course.

            Oh…wait.

          • There is a noun ‘statistic’ and it can be shorten’d to ‘stat’, that would make the plurals ‘statistics’ and ‘stats’.

            However mathematics is not the plural of mathematic.

          • You’re getting confused, perhaps because “mathematics” can be used in two different ways.

            Mathematics is the study of all the mathematical sciences. But as a label, it denotes a subject of study, and the subject itself is singular. But the target of the label is plural. If the analysis of all radishes was deemed sufficiently important to become a subject in its own right, “radishes” would be a subject, and we might say, “I hate radishes; it sucks”. In that context we are treating “radishes” as a subject, and it is a singular in that regard. If you wanted to contract “radishes”, you could go the American route and simply contract the label itself to “rad”, or you could go the British route and create a label pointing to a contraction of the target of the label, the radishes themselves (a plural), and end up with “rads”, which maintains the plurality.

            Incidentally, Americans tend to use similar logic when discussing rock groups and sporting teams: they will conjugate based on the label, not on the target of the label. The British always conjugate based on the target (and they treat all groups and teams as being plural). If an American is talking about the Miami Dolphins, they might say:

            “Miami sucks.”

            “The dolphins suck.”

            If a Brit is talking about Blackburn Rovers, they might say:

            “Blackburn are doing well this year.”

            “Rovers are doing well this year.”

            The consistency comes from the fact that it is the target of the label being used in both cases, and the label itself is irrelevant.

            Of interest: if you look up the Wikipedia page of any British rock band where the name/label is a singular, it will always treat them as a plural, e.g. “Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968”. If you do the same for any US rock band, it will always treat them as a singular, e.g. “Nirvana was an American rock band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987.” This reflects the different rule systems used in the two different countries.

          • I’m not confus’d and you’re starting to make things up. You tried to quip that stats is a shortening of statistics and therefore the shortening of mathematics should be maths without recognizing that there is a singular statistic and a singular shortening ‘stat’, thus stats is a plural form … the same does not hold true for mathematics. There is no singular NOUN mathematic.

            Rather than letting the thread die, you start making up a pretend scenario with ‘radishes’ taking a singular pronoun. Utter rubbish.

            Talking about whether to treat a band or team as singular or plural noun is a red herring to this argument as it has nothing to do with shortening of words.

          • Kaitain says:

            “There is no singular NOUN mathematic.”

            But that’s an historical accident. “Mathematics” means “the mathematical sciences”. It pluralizes and then contracts, in one simple step. “Maths” is a further contraction of this.

            Note that we also do not use the word “scissor” as a singular noun, but that does not mean that the word “scissors” is not a plural. It is.

            “Rather than letting the thread die, you start making up a pretend scenario with ‘radishes’ taking a singular pronoun.”

            I’m sorry that you couldn’t follow the analogy.

          • Clinton Kelley says:

            No. Statistics is plural. You can have a statistic, or you can have multiple statistics. Have you EVER heard anyone say Mathematic? No, you have not. If the word Mathematics was plural, then Mathematic would be an actual word – the singular version of the word Mathematics. It’s REALLY that simple. The word Math is correct.

          • Kaitain says:

            “Mathematica” is a Latin plural noun, so “mathematics” became the English translation of that plural noun. “Mathematics” is a plural. The fact that “mathematic” is not used as a singular is no kind of knock-down argument: the same is true of scissors, pants, trousers etc.

            It’s REALLY that simple. The word maths is correct.

          • Joseph Passmore says:

            Now let it be clear, English is by far my least in known subjects, but one thing I do know is how to think logically. I’d like to throw out a few words that come to my mind when I think of Math, Maths, Mathematica, Mathematics, and the like.

            “Man, Mankind; Fish, Fishes.”

            Am I wrong or am I right in figuring that both Math and Maths and be acceptible? I personally am born of the U.S.A., and use the term Math for the subject and the verb of doing said subject. I look at it like Fish can be plural and singular.

          • Harrison says:

            Statistics can also be a noun, hence why it’s classed as a plural noun. For example, the subject is called statistics not statistic; also the abbreviation is “stats”, “stat” is an entirely different word. Anyway, back to the subject at matter, it all depends on where you live, North America it is “math” the rest of the world it is “maths”. The rules of the English language constantly contradicts itself. Just because it’s common to use the word “math” where you’re from doesn’t make it universally correct, in my opinion there are arguments for both sides but more for the “maths” spelling – it’s just an “agree to disagree” situation.

          • Rik Holden says:

            Mathematic IS a word. You can have a ‘Mathematic’ process or a Mathematic possibility. Peaple DO say it. What are you talking about?

          • It’s mathematicAL

          • Chinmaya Nagpal says:

            And Americans don’t? (Speak horrible English)

          • Scheme Gene says:

            Yes, what would us English know about English? You seem to be getting accents and dialect (hundreds of years worth) mixed up with intelligence. Its a common mistake, especially for an idiot Yankee like yourself.

          • Dumb Yankees won the war,get over it.

          • One must.reply to.the above serpent’ personal I think as a Salfordian,now having living in the suburbs of Timperley for the past 30 years and traveling the globe, but please excuse my ignorance where is Chimaya Napal??? And I would like to mention the English spoken word surely must have been spoken before you were born and many thousand of years prior.All though it’s months after your comments,I and my wife spend a lot of time visiting my son and our beautiful,caring, (and getting the the british.joke )daughter-in-law. When shown your Benin comments she said why is he so pedantic about the written word, ( when was the last time he wrote a letter in ink ( why do they drop the U in every written English word, MAN lighten up,this is coming from a young 70 year old promise me WILL you will buck up.

            Oh by the way it’s all about US UK FAMILY please promise me you will turn over a new life,and stop gripping about things that are infintestible and put your views as a half full glass than negativity in your life.I assure you you will be enlighten. We both beg to differ Math is Maths,,Well you forefathers from England obviously took short cuts,Hey who gives a frigging fig
            The English or as Mrs Alaska say everybody should write and speak American
            I REST MY CASE. ( I do when I’m here ) do the words when in R
            ONE come TO MIND….

          • English has been spoken in America for four hundred years or so and in England for over a thousand years. American English has developed a number of differences to English.

        • Math is the older form–the OED has examples back to 1847, but examples of maths only from 1911.

          • Chinmaya Nagpal says:

            The word Mathematics was not shortened until the late 1800’s. It was first shortened to Math by… you guessed it, the Americans. The Brits didn’t shorten the word until the early 1900’s and they changed it to Maths. Most modern day English was developed after the U.S. was already a country. The U.S. and the U.K. just adapted English differently

      • Theresa F says:

        Lol!!

      • But a group of three Thomases would be a group of Toms.

    • mediumsizedrob says:

      You probably also say “cheers” and refer to your apartment as a “flat.”

  3. English people from England invented the English language. English people from England have always said maths. I don’t know where this stupid math saying comes from because it sounds rather retarded. Probably the same place the word color comes even though English people from England invented the word colour. If people don’t like the words the english invented then why try to speak or spell it. Just pick a different language to speak.

  4. Since the English created the English language and gave it to the world then their spelling of the word has to be the correct one.

    • by saying “gave it to” i think you meant to say “forced it upon.” i doubt any indigenous peoples were begging to speak a different language as they were being cut with swords. English is just a mish mash of other languages anyway, like Anglo-Saxon, German, and such.

      • Andrew O'Gorman says:

        Shit happens. Lovely language which over the centuries had taken on “indigenous” words with alacrity. This is why it will continued to be spake for many centuries to come – if we are still around!

    • Such are the thoughts of a severely uneducated person. English, as a language, is alive, and suffers changes. If you really believe in what you said, go back to speaking 13th century English.

    • The word Mathematics was not shortened until the late 1800’s. It was first shortened to Math by… you guessed it the Americans. The Brits didn’t shorten the word until the late 1900’s and they changed it to Maths. Most modern day English was developed after the U.S. was already a country. The U.S. and the U.K. just adapted English differently. So if you are going to make the argument (made above) that we should all go by British English then we really should be speaking as if we were in Shakespeare times.

      • Just to add to my comment. I don’t believe the English are wrong. I also don’t think Americans are wrong. I think we need to acknowledge that English is developed differently in different parts of the world which makes both U.K. versions and other versions equally correct.

      • mediumsizedrob says:

        Just like Canadians did with football, the English had to make the abbreviation for mathematics slightly different than the US version, for no other reason than to be different.

      • The late 1900s, huh? What did you have in mind? 1996?

    • James Boner says:

      The English language wasn’t created by a single group of people. It was developed gradually over centuries, borrowing from many other languages such as Latin, German, Norse, and French.

    • Wendy Howard says:

      The Greeks first gave us the word, not the English.

  5. Maximillian says:

    Mathematics means “What we learn”, that makes it a verb, not a noun.

  6. Tim Gildersleeve says:

    To be honest, it doesn’t really matter if it is singular or plural. The abbreviation of mathematics to maths or math is purely down to language usage where you are. I am from England so for me it has always been maths. I would go so far as to say hearing it called math really irritates me, but I know that is just down to my location.

    • Max Wolfson says:

      Hey want to meet up?? ;)

    • mediumsizedrob says:

      How does it not sound incorrect to you to say something like “the maths is all wrong?” Even though it is not a plural, the s at the end sounds totally awkward.

      • Tim Gildersleeve says:

        Simple really….. To you, seeing and hearing the word “math” is second nature. To people in England seeing and hearing the word “maths” is second nature. Seeing “the math is all wrong” almost makes my skin crawl – because in our language its incorrect. Just like “the ezibalo is all wrong” (which is maths in zulu) looks wrong to both of us. I think the point is that while they are very similar English and American English are different languages.

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox says:

          Kind of how you call the letter “z” zed, which is totally messed up. Sounds about as gay as you can get.

          • Tim Gildersleeve says:

            That’s a rather bigoted response don’t you think? Because one language is different from another doesn’t make one of them “messed up” or as you very amusingly say, “gay”. Calling it “zee”, comes from a late 17 th century dialect and was not the original pronunciation of the letter’s name.

          • It would appear that Zaphod Beeblebrox is a complete knucklehead, but I think he/she is just trying to get a reaction.

        • The first time I heard ”maths” I felt like throwing up due to severe confusion of a magnitude far beyond imaginable. I still feel that way. 1+2=3 —> ONE simple equation, so it should not appear to be more than one math. I am aware the ”s” is not an indication of plural, but it sure seems that way.

          • Tim Gildersleeve says:

            Maths is quite simply…. (MATH)ematic(S). It’s simply that Americans abbreviate by simply chopping off the end of a word (usually), whereas the British chop out the middle of a word (usually).

          • I assume you think we’re being all intellectual while fluoride remains in the water despite numerous scientific studies proving it to be detrimental to physical and mental health, but I just have to leave you with: I am both American and British but personally, if I had to grow up saying ”I have to go to maths class” I’d feel awkward. regardless of custom, I’ve always found several words to sound beyond weird. If someone referred to an equation as a ”mathematics equation” it would be weird, as it would be one equation. Or mathS class would be weird because math, being one thing, ONE subject, is, well, MATH. We don’t say algebras, we don’t say gyms class, we don’t say arts class. Specific sciences such as physics which involves math and physical objectS is called physics because of the various different things involved.

          • I don’t think you are “being” anything, I just find it odd that people assume anything with an s on the end must mean its plural. Maths isn’t maths because its plural – its an abbreviation. With the exception of gym, all the examples you have given are examples of full abbreviated words with you putting an s on the end to show how ridiculous it would be. You are right, it would but this is nothing to do with making mathematics plural. It is quite simply an abbreviation and the fact that in British English, it is quite common when abbreviation to cut the middle of the word out, where as Americans usually simply chop the end of the word off. This whole argument about “maths is wrong because it makes it plural” is just odd when the full word is mathematics, which also ends with s. I don’t hear anyone complaining that mathematics makes it sound plural. Why is it fine in full but suddenly people think it is being “made plural” by removing the “ematic” from the middle?

          • Tim Gildersleeve says:

            I don’t think you are “being” anything, I just find it odd that people assume anything with an s on the end must mean its plural. Maths isn’t maths because it’s plural – it’s an abbreviation. With the exception of gym, all the examples you have given are examples of full unabbreviated words with you putting an s on the end to show how ridiculous it would be. You are right, it would but this is nothing to do with making mathematics plural. It is quite simply an abbreviation and the fact that in British English, it is quite common when abbreviating to cut the middle of the word out, where as Americans usually simply chop the end of the word off. This whole argument about “maths is wrong because it makes it plural” is just odd when the unabbreviated word is mathematics, which also ends with s. I don’t hear anyone complaining that mathematics makes it sound plural. Why is it fine in full but suddenly people think it is being “made plural” by removing the “ematic” from the middle?

            (Annoyingly I posted this as a reply to the wrong post and deleted it and tried to post it here – and it wouldn’t let me as “You have already posted this comment”. I am hoping this edit will allow me to post!)

          • Furthermore, from another website: “Math” as a colloquial short form of “mathematics” first appeared in print quite a while ago, in 1847, although that “math” sported a period (“It rained so that we had a math. lesson indoors.”) and was thus clearly a simple informal abbreviation. “Math” unadorned appeared by the 1870s. “Maths” is a bit newer, first appearing in print in 1911.

            Seeing as Math preceeds Maths then this is clearly a case of the English “bastardizing” (as you put it) their own language.

            No one nationality or country “owns a language.” People communicate as they will.

            Languages grow and develop naturally over time. Despite anyone’s whining to the contrary our respective cultures will continue to say things or change how we say things as much as we dang well please.”

        • Tim Gildersleeve, would you say “the math IS all wrong,” “the maths IS all wrong,” or “the maths ARE all wrong” ?? I would say to use “math is all wrong.” And that in the field of mathematics / math there are many types of mathematics/maths. It becomes unambiguous if you use the full out “mathematics” rather than the abbv’d “maths.” American’s differ from Brits in placement of punctuation with closing quotation marks to avoid ambiguation and confusion with hanging commas and periods its all a matter of style rather than formality. Just do what makes the most sense and least confusion (see the Chicago Manual of Style).

      • So it sounds unacceptable to you to hear “physics is a boring subject”?

        And you would contract “statistics” to “stat” rather than “stats”? Or do you treat stats (as a subject) as being plural?
        “Stats are the most boring subject.”

      • Teccho Ong says:

        why does “the maths is all wrong” sound bad? Do you say “the news ARE all wrong”? It is just a difference of pronunciation… Americans like to pronounce the word HERBS, like URBS…. and then pronounce parmesan cheese like parmejan… and they cannot pronounce aluminium…. its just the way it is.

  7. I think that the best way to go is the English way. After all, they did invent the language. MATHS

  8. Francophag says:

    One thing I’ve found funny in connection with the usage of math/maths is that it’s reversed when talking about athletic activities. In the U.S., people play sports, but in the U.K., they play sport (at least from all I’ve heard).

    • Ivan Nicholas Barakoff says:

      Good point – but this is a colloquialism, since Sport/sports is not abbreviated so not totally in line with the math/maths discussion. Besides, it depends on grammatical context (again where math/maths does not); my (singular) favorite sport is rugby, but I enjoy many sports… But yet, sometimes the UK use sport for plural too, like the word sheep, or something.

  9. Ivan Nicholas Barakoff says:

    Having many UK and US friends I made a (small) experiment on this to see if its cultural for a larger scale / phenomenon. I asked them to abbreviate words for me, long words, ending with or without “s” and being plural or singular. Americans tend to abbreviate by using the beginning few letters (usually 1-2 vowels + 2 consonants); while the UK use a “interspersed sample” of letters throughout a word, including the beginning and end letters by default, but not showing strong preference to vowels or consonant “balance” in the abbreviation. Math therefore is consistent with US abbreviation preference, whereas Maths is consistent with UK custom. For example; cumulo-nimbus abb. to: US; cum-nim, UK; cmlnmbs (yes really, this came up often…). Or; electronics abb. to: US; elec, UK; etrncs (??!). Or even; because abb. to: US; bec, UK; bcse (this one actually looks good).

    I’m neither American or English so I look at it objectively; the US way is easier and less ambiguous, as the UK method of “interspersed sampling” gave much more variety in the abbreviations and therefore more confusion on deciphering (debreviation?), It even took the UK people LONGER to abbreviate words because they had to “pick” which letters they “wanted” to keep! Finally, the abb. words in the UK group tended to be longer, defeting the purpose of abb. lol

    What do other UK/US/non-native English users think?

    • Is the US way really less ambiguous? If we take your example of the abbreviation of electronics to elec., it could mean any number of things: electronics, electricity, election, elective etc. The abbreviation ‘etrncs’ definitely seems more difficult to parse but is much less ambiguous; I can’t think of any other words that fit such an abbreviation.

      • Ivan Nicholas Barakoff says:

        Sure, you have a valid point. It would have been better if I said that the “US” abbreviation is quicker and easier, not the parsing at the other end. You are right there.

        On parsing “US” style; “elec.”, is more ambiguous, but I would point out that context helps – if you see “elec eng. class” in your engineering degree’s curriculum, you might not assume it means “election engagement class”? In cases of real ambiguity it could make sense to mix both types – I don’t know? Oh, and; “entrenchments” engineering? (lol, being a bit of a troll here)

        Again though, I’m saying the “US” way is easier to keep to as an algorithm, and has less ambiguity on abbreviation – but I can see that others might value the parsing-ambiguity side more and choose the “UK” way. To keep on topic – it was just an idea to explain why both Math/Maths exist objectively, rather than just culturally.

    • Max Wolfson says:

      hey LOL

    • How about people just don’t abbreviate words that clearly shouldn’t be abbreviated in the first place?

  10. Charlie Carr says:

    i think maths makes more sense because its mathematics shortened… you wouldn’t say “doing some mathematic,” you pluralise

    • Steven Chartis says:

      Except that we don’t pluralize. Calculus is a very broad subject and it abbreviated as ‘calc’, and not ‘calcs’. Mathematics, too, should be ‘math’. Wouldn’t logic otherwise indicate that “economics” and “physics” are plural? We also don’t say: mathematics are the best. The correct way to say it is: mathematics is the best.

      • Charlie Carr says:

        i always think of ALL those words as plurals… maybe sort of like soft plurals but…

      • Charlie Carr says:

        its one of those american (presuming you are) v british idiosyncratic things at the end of the day, i don’t really think either are wrong except I’m used to saying it one way and you are used to saying it another. its very sad really but my dad used to get really wound up by ‘jelly’ (we say jam) and ‘jello’ (we say jelly). neither is wrong, if anything i think the americans version of what i was talking about probably makes more sense, its just what we’ve all grown up saying. although its aluminium, not aluminum. that i will stand my ground over ;)

      • Yes, but you’d also contract the subject of statistics to “stats”, and would say “stats is the most useful subject”.

        • Brett Yarberry says:

          except “Statistics” IS plural, while the singular “Statistic” is singular
          that is why it abbreviated to both “stats” and the singular to “stat”
          We use stat only when referring to an individual statistic, and we use “Stats” to refer to the class as in that sense it is plural.

          • Mathematics is also plural (although “the subject of mathematics” is single). We just happen never to have used the singular form in English (as opposed to in Latin/Greek). You should say, for instance, “I’ve looked at the mathematics, and they’re correct”, as opposed to “I’ve looked at the mathematics, and it’s correct”.

          • Brett Yarberry says:

            Mathematics is an uncountable noun (aka mass noun), much like water. In modern english, uncountable nouns are treated grammatically as singular nouns. Also, μαθηματικός (mathematikos) is singular in greek, and meant “mathematician/advanced student”. And mathematica is singular in latin, and has the same meaning as in english.

  11. Zaphod Beeblebrox says:

    Duh, just look in the dictionary. It says “math.”

  12. The word in full, in both Br.E and Am. E, is ‘mathematicS’, not ‘mathematic’. Similarly, we have ‘statisticS’. In the UK we say maths and stats (consistent)…now, do you in the US say ‘math and stat’?

    • Brent DeJong says:

      Actually, we say math and stats. lol
      I did call my stats class “Stat 312” though. If it’s easier not to pronounce a letter, we Americans, being lazy in our language use, don’t pronounce it.

      • Brett Yarberry says:

        Most of the time course names are abbreviated to 3 or 4 letters, so Stat 312 is how it is written, but it can be pronounced either as “Stat 312”, “Stats 312”, or “Statistics 312” and still be correct. However, it is never okay to say “Statistic 312”.

    • Brett Yarberry says:

      As there is no plural for Mathematics, we always use “math”, however, as Statistics is a countable noun, it has both a singular and a plural, which are “stat” and “stats” respectively. We use “stat” when referring to an individual statistic, but we use “stats” to refer to the course, as It is a class of statistics (plural), not a class of statistic (singular).

  13. Math is better than Maths, like Deer is better than Deers.

  14. Rey Leija says:

    The origin of the word “mathematics” was derived from the greek
    “mathema” which evolved into the latin neuter plural “matematica” (no s)
    meaning mathematical art. So what is wrong with dropping the “s” when
    the true origin of the word never contained one to begin with.

    For those that would argue that its not plausible to have both “math”
    and “maths” because “mathematic” is not a word. When the term was
    absorbed into the french language (before it was used by the english),
    the French used “les mathematiques” plurally and “les mathematique”
    singularly.

    • Surely “le mathematique”?

    • kiwi-ian says:

      Sorry Rey, you’re way off. Mathematics in Latin is feminine, not neuter. It is irrelevant that there may be no s in the Latin plural (though there is in the plural of the accusative (matematicas) and dative and ablative cases, matematicis).

      As for French, it les mathématiques shortened to les maths i.e. plural. “Les maths sont difficiles”, not “la math est difficile”.

      4 years at school in France did this to me!

  15. I like to fish and often see lots of pretty fish, but never do I see fishes.

    • “Fishes” is an acceptable plural of “fish”, albeit not one used very frequently.

    • Brett Yarberry says:

      Fishes is much more commonly used as a verb than a noun.

      The reason “fish” is used as the plural is because that is how English treats nouns that normally would have a modifier to denote pluralness. Examples are, a herd of cattle, a school of fish, a swarm of locust, etc.

  16. Brittany Mae says:

    I thought Maths meant /all/ kinds of maths while math just meant basic math…?

  17. I have an idea, why don’t we all get a life!

  18. Thanks!

  19. Tellit Likeitis says:

    it’s MATH…

  20. Sam McKenna says:

    Here’s the way I think of it – let me know if you agree/disagree (from London, UK if it matters). Saying “I’ll do the mathematics” sounds more plausible than “I’ll do the mathematic” to me. Therefore, ‘maths’ makes more sense than ‘math’ in my day-to-day life.

  21. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Say what sounds better to you but you will be questioned. Brits do not say the field of “languages” or “medicines” or “pharmacies” or “dentistries” or “engineerings” or “chemistries,” (note placement of the comma inside of closing quotation marks). We all say “physics” because the singular is often confused with the act of giving of an enema. Also the plural of physics … physicses is hard to say. So no I don’t like hearing Brits say “maths” but they can bloody well do what they want (as one Brit said to me). I also refuse to say the childish word “loo” for bathroom or toilet, and only Mary Poppins would say “bumbershoot” for umbrella.

    • kiwi-ian says:

      Your logic is not understandable. We do refer to “languages” if speaking of several but “language” if speaking of the general concept. As for your other examples . . .

      If you read the grammatical arguments above, “mathematics” is plural (as in French and Latin), therefore its abbreviation is also plural, i.e. “maths”. But we also refer to the subject itself, the study of, in the singular often omitting the word “subject”, e.g., (the subject of) mathematics is hard, but we say the mathematics don’t add up (not doesn’t).

      As for your comment regarding the ‘childish’ word loo, might I remind you that a bathroom should have a bath and if it doesn’t how can one call it a bathroom? Pure American puritanism. Even more so given that both toilet and lavatory are already euphemisms (both refer to washing).

  22. The incursion of “maths” annoys me. I’ve been on the Internet for 25 years, and it has always been “math” in real life and online, until the last few years. Can that really be explained by saying I have a parochial U.S. point-of-view?

    So, I now read it is the default in the UK? Well, that explains a lot. Very plausible usage from people that use the even-more-annoying “whilst.”

    [Hilarious! when spell-checking this post, my software became annoyed with the word ‘maths’ and, of course, told me to correct it with ‘math.’]

    • kiwi-ian says:

      In answer to your first question, do you have a parochial POV, then yes, if you believe that it was always “Math” since it was “Maths” everywhere outside of the US and Canada.

  23. Callen Fields says:

    I’d say Math is superior for the sole reasoning of, you’re simplifying a word, why put the extra letter at the end to make it longer and slightly harder to say? The point of simplification is to make things….simple.

  24. While neither is correct and this is all completely pointless, to a British person who says maths, its like saying “I have 12 app on my phone” instead of “I have 12 apps on my phone” because applications is plural and the abbreviation should then be plural, mathematics -> maths.

    • Brett Yarberry says:

      Mathematics is an uncountable noun, which is why it is grammatically singular. The only way I could see people interpreting it as plural is when they are using it as an adjective.

  25. Ian Barker says:

    I’m English and I say maths.

    I completely accept people saying math as i know what they are talking about and my life is too short to bicker over a single bloody letter.

    If you are conversing with someone and they pronounce a word differently to you but you know what they mean who cares?

  26. iphoneHater says:

    What a load of Bollocks! It’s Maths! End of argument. Next you will be telling us it’s Aluminum.

    • SmallCircle says:

      Isn’t it though?

    • Brett Yarberry says:

      From what I read, the person who discovered that Aluminum/Aluminium was an element wrote both Aluminum and Aluminium in his journals, and he wasn’t very consistent. The americans took Aluminum as the correct spelling, while the british took Aluminium as the correct spelling.

  27. The following is from a test given across the US (and no other foreign country) every year to about 700,000 high school students. The test is titled: Mathematics Knowledge. That title rings very strange in my ears. 1) Please comment on the grammar of the title. 2) Based on the title, take a guess at describing the subject matter and maybe a few test questions. 3) Take a guess as to what institution wrote that title.

  28. Which forms is older: math or maths?

  29. Robert Conway says:

    math is 2 plus 2=4 a single sum math
    , maths is maths class, maths sums, long devision etc im thick but its obvios to me

  30. Robert Conway says:

    yes it does 2 plus 2 is math any futher calculations in same actions is maths

  31. Robert Conway says:

    if you put moisturising lotion on, and use another you have put moisturising lotions on. with an s plural a single sum is math, any more is maths simples quiiic

  32. Brett Yarberry says:

    Mathematics is never a plural word, when used as an adjective, it often modifies a plural noun, but that does not make Mathematics plural.

  33. I’m an Anglophile so I like maths… lol.

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