String Pluralization in JavaScript Using Simplur

William Le

Handling plural/singular forms of nouns in English can be difficult in software. Using a library called Simplur provides you with a simple JavaScript utility to solving this problem!

There are some problems in programming that originate from the human language. One of these problems is singular/plural nouns.

A single potato is spelled “potato” but two/more is spelled “potatoes”. How do you tackle this with JavaScript?

There are several ways, but they’re not particularly elegant…

const shoppingCart = ['guitar', 'bicycle', 'shoes'];

/* 1st approach */
const noun = shoppingCart.length >= 2
  ? 'items'
  : 'item';
const text1 = `You have ${shoppingCart.length} ${noun} in your shopping cart`;
// "You have 3 items in your shopping cart"

/* 2nd approach */
const text2 = `You have ${shoppingCart.length} item(s) in your shopping cart`;
// "You have 3 item(s) in your shopping cart"

While these solution work, a new library called Simplur has a really smart way to solve it 🌟

We're using English examples, but many languages exhibit this same problem where plural nouns are spelled differently than their singular forms.

Using Simplur

You can install simplur via npm:

$ npm install simplur

Here’s how simplur is used:

import simplur from 'simplur';

const breadCount = 12;
const text = simplur`Get ${breadCount} loa[f|ves] of bread`;
// "Get 12 loaves of bread"

Simplur uses a template string that’s tagged using the simplur function, and when the number is greater than 1 it uses the second noun form. Simple as that!

Empty Singluar Form

Simplur also works with nouns that only adds a suffix for its plural form (instead of changing a significant portion of the word):

const shoppingCart = ['shoes'];
const text = simplur`You have ${shoppingCart.length} item[|s] in your shopping cart`;
// "You have 1 item in your shopping cart"

You just need to omit the first form.

Multiple Noun Forms

You can include several nouns and simplur will “look ahead”. In English, our “demonstratives” like this/that/these/those can be easily handled this way:

const chipmunks = ['alvin', 'simon', 'theodore'];
const text = simplur`[That|Those] ${chipmunks.length} chipmunk[|s] [is|are] getting away!`;
// "Those 3 chipmunks are getting away!"

Conclusion

The English language (and most languages) is not a precise instrument and this can lead to interesting programming problems. Hopefully you found simplur useful for use in your JavaScript projects!

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