Quite often I find myself referring in text to objects which have strict naming conventions e.g. Java objects, processes, services. I find myself in a dilemma over how to pluralize these names.

It seems wrong to pollute the meaningful name by adding an 's' - or worse, a plural that modifies the rest of the name like SomethingUtility -> SomethingUtilities. What if someone does a text search looking for the name? Or cuts and pastes from my comment to search through a log file?

I have sometimes resorted to an ungrammatical apostrophe, but this can confuse plural with ownership.

Is there any better solution?

  • 4
    Is that really a problem ? Aug 7, 2013 at 9:38
  • enough of a problem that 3 people found an answer useful... Aug 7, 2013 at 9:45
  • Just to clarify your question, your issue is with documentation only?
    – zuiqo
    Aug 7, 2013 at 12:24
  • 1
    @phi - not just documentation, but any time I have to refer to these objects in text, e.g. notes, messages, code comments...even on Stack Overflow Aug 7, 2013 at 12:55

2 Answers 2


If the class name cannot be converted into proper English, while retaining it's sense, then that's usually indicative of bad class naming. That is, if you're talking about a ShippingMethodRepository, then there's rarely a reason not to write "shipping-method repository" and thus "shipping-method repositories". This is easier for most people to read, because of the subtle visual clues in compound modifiers and such.

In the few cases where you feel a need to point to the class-name, if you give each situation some thought, you'll probably find that you're missing either the word "instance" or "class" in your sentence. I suggest putting it back in as a matter of course -- it is easy to cause confusion by not being specific.

As a bonus, this will make it easier to pluralise. ie. "ShippingMethodRepository instance" becomes "ShippingMethodRepository instances". (You'll probably find that you never need to pluralise class in this context.)


In my Documentations, I do it like we do it here on Stackexchange and use different font Styles for special Terms.

For those terms where a different pluralization would be required according to English grammar, I just don't do it. My excuse for this is that the names of my Classs are not English words. They are a made-up words for my program.

  • -1 for not actually answering his question about 'SomethingUtility''s
    – DougM
    Aug 7, 2013 at 12:39
  • @DougM Updated answer.
    – Philipp
    Aug 7, 2013 at 20:21
  • 1
    "Classs"? Really? Can't say I agree with that :P I do agree with the overall advice, though.
    – Andres F.
    Aug 7, 2013 at 20:36

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