Grammar Is Dice Plural or Singular? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Is Dice Plural or Singular?

Which word do you use if you’re playing a game with more than one small, numbered cube that you have to roll?

Today we’ll look at the word dice, along with some related thoughts.

The Plural of Dice: Are We Using Correct English?

To begin with, asking “What is the plural of dice?” is a trick question. That’s because dice is plural already.

If you have only one cube, it’s called a die: He picked up the single die and rolled it.

If you have two cubes, you have dice: She picked up the two dice and rolled them.

Because it’s not common to cast a single die in games that are popular in America, not all people might understand that dice is already plural. For that reason they may look to add extra letters such as an “s” or an “n” to indicate that more than one die are being used: dices, dicen.

Simply remember that a single cube is a die, and two or more are dice.

What Else Makes Die vs. Dice Confusing

As we’ve mentioned, not many situations call for a single die, so we may not always have opportunities to reinforce our understanding of the distinction in daily writing and speech. In addition, what may compound the confusion is that the word die is also widely used in a much different context.

As a verb, to die means “to pass away or stop living.” We use that word in that context much more often than we do in discussing a game. It’s possible that we subconsciously prefer to avoid the association: He will roll the die, and then he will die. We are also more familiar with the use of dice in our colloquial speech to mean any amount of the numbered cubes.

Another thing to consider is that we might get thrown off by the dissimilarity of dice and a word such as the plural mice. Although the same in plural form, they have different singular forms (die versus mouse). This is because of the way the language has evolved from other sources such as older English, Latin, French, and Greek.

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