Plural-named singular objects

I’m not even sure the proper term for what I’m trying to accomplish, but there are objects that are always pluralized, even when singular (ex. jeans, handcuffs, pants).

I’ve seen people handle this in Inform and other adventure languages as “a pair of pants”, “a pair of handcuffs”. It works, and keeps things sane: You see a pair of green pants here.

But no-one really talks like that. The “right” output to me is: You see green pants here.

I can’t figure out how to tell Inform to remove the article entirely when referring to these sorts of objects.

I do. But I am probably not a good statistical sample…

You can do this:

The green pants are a proper-named plural-named thing. 

This is imperfect, but maybe what you want:

You can see a box and green pants here.

>get pants

You are carrying:
  green pants

>x pants
You see nothing special about green pants.

>eat pants
They're plainly inedible.

>drop pants

>drop pants
Green pants are already here.

Since the object is proper-named, the library will never use “the”, even though it would be more natural for “[the noun]” messages.

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I’m new to this but would this do what you want?

"Green Pants" by Jonathan

Bedroom is a room.

The green pants are in the Bedroom.  The green pants are plural-named.

(Edited to add the word “the”.)

Another option is to set the indefinite article property to “some”:

The green pants are a plural-named thing.
The indefinite article of the green pants is "some".
You can see a box and some green pants here.

>get pants

You are carrying:
  some green pants
  a wand
  a sword

>x pants
You see nothing special about the green pants.

The indefinite article for a plural-named thing which is not also proper-named seems to be “some” by default, at least in the “You can see some green pants here” and “You are carrying: some green pants” messages above.

After the excitement of feeling able to help, and the disappointment at realising my answer didn’t give the desired effect (“You can see green pants here”), now I am getting completely tangled up!

What’s the difference between the following, apart from the way they are expressed?

The green pants are here. The green pants are plural-named.


The green pants are here. The green pants are a plural-named thing. The indefinite article of the green pants is "some".


Some green pants are here.


Reasonable question!

In the first example, the pants have no indefinite article property. They default to displaying “some” as the article, because that’s what the library does when there is no such property.

In the third example, the compiler infers that they’re plural-named, so the result is exactly the same as the first.

The second example explicitly gives an indefinite article property of “some”. This produces the same behavior, because “some” is the default output, as I said.

So there’s no difference.

The only subtlety here is that the default value of the indefinite article property is the empty string (""), but the default behavior (what the library does when the value is “”) is to print “some”.


You can see the difference if you showme pants.

Since the underlying value is different, it’s possible there might be some context that does display it differently. But anything that uses the standard printing behaviour should behave the same, as zarf said.

Personally, I’d just use Some green pants are here. since that’s concise and infers all the correct properties automatically (except perhaps for not being wearable by default, unless someone is declared to initially be wearing them). But you can add that on later easily enough.


Thank you very much. I’m working my way through Jim Aikin’s excellent Inform 7 Handbook and coincidentally the very next section was “Plurals & Collective Objects”.

He gives the example of “some brackish water” which is fixed in place giving a different response to “get water” than when it’s “the brackish water” with “some” set as the indefinite article.

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Yes, but just a subtle one. The former is implicitly plural named while the latter isn’t. The refusal to take fixed in place objects doesn’t actually print the article or the name of the object, but it does use a pronoun to refer to it, so does react to whether the object is considered plural or not.

Also don’t forget the very useful declaration:
The plural of pair of pants is pairs of pants.