After yet another egregious use of the fictitious word “LEGOs” by a mainstream (American) publication, I sought evidence from the wide world of the Internet.

Or is that the Internets? That would be my first question – what are we naming? The parts or the whole? If we’re naming the whole product range of the LEGO company, then surely LEGOs must mean more than one such company? Is “the Internet” a collective term for every computer on the network and every router and every network circuit? Perhaps.

But even if we aren’t naming the whole, I think answers like this are concentrating so hard on the technicalities of the English language that they’re missing a key point. Oh, wait. Are we talking about “English words” or “Englishes?” No, that would be silly. Wouldn’t it?

I need to build a (real) house, so I will need some bricks, some woods and some tiles. Why are “bricks” and “tiles” correct but “woods” is not? Because “wood” represents a system of components (quite broad in this case), whereas a “brick” and a “tile” are an individual item. We can name a wooden component, such as a batten. I need battens. See, if we name a single entity, we pluralise it with the ‘s’. If we name the system we do not. Interestingly, if we head to the game of golf, where a “wood” is indeed a single club, then the word “woods” is perfectly correct.

In my house I will need some furnitures. Maybe some Ikeas? Definitely some beds and some chairs. See? Name a thing, add an ‘s’, name a concept, don’t add an ‘s’. “Ikea” and “LEGO” must surely be considered equivalent for this argument!

So let’s go back to LEGO. What is it? It’s a company, but like many brands it has come to represent the company’s iconic products. All of them. What is LEGO? It’s a system of interlocking bricks and other parts which fit together in a standard way. We can buy “minifigs”, “bricks” and “sets”. But in the end we are buying lots and lots of LEGO.

If you insist on playing with “LEGOs”, you can also have a lot of fun playing with some Scalextrics, some Meccanos, some K’NEXs, some Marklins or Hornbys. Or you can go old school and build something with woods or sculpt something with clays. You can thatch a roof with straws (that’d be fun to watch!) or write some poetry with Englishes.

Categories: General


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