For context: I'm talking about this edit of my question.

I'm aware that "die" is a possible, maybe more correct singular of the plural "dice". However, "dice" also is an accepted singular form. And in the text, it's not even singular in all instances at all. In addition, I learned in school that all numbers below 20 are to be spelled out. So that leaves... nothing at all of this edit.

But I'm not a native speaker. What do you think? To me, my post looks terribly wrong after the edit. But three people think it's better now. Should I roll it back or is my "feeling" of the English language just not in tune with the realities of contemporary grammar?


Thanks for the answers, as the opinions seem to be clear, I have rolled the edit back and edited those two instances that actually needed editing because they are singular and should read "die".

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Dice isn't an 'accepted singular form'. It's incorrect, just that a lot of people have no idea, and those that do don't tend to bother with correcting anyone. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 2:02

2 Answers 2


Neither edit is technically correct, because singular and plurals are needed.

"The number of HD" should be "hit dice" because it's an indeterminate quantity.

"For each HD" should be "hit die" because that's talking about each (singular) HD gained.

And likewise "1 HD" is talking about just one, and so it should be "hit die."

("Dice" isn't a proper singular noun, just commonly misused because the word "die" is heard rarely enough in common language that people often don't know it exists.)

The numeral thing is purely style and probably not an appropriate edit.

While style guides usually advise that single-digit numbers are almost always written out (and many have further things to say on higher numbers), and RPGs have their own internal style traditions when talking about dice numbers (though I'm not familiar with 5e's), at the end of the day it's for the asker to decide on. We have a pretty firmly established consensus on the need to not edit for grammar and style where clarity is not at stake.


Properly, the first use of the word should be plural (“dice”), so that part of the edit is just wrong.

Using “dice” as a singular is only really acceptable if you’re talking about some number of dice that could be one but isn’t necessarily (i.e. people are fine using “dice” for what might more properly be “die or dice”). But using “dice” to refer to a single die is, at least from my perspective, wrong. This answer from our own English Language & Usage site agrees with me, and shows a strong consensus on that site on the matter.

Writing a numeral versus writing out the name of the number is very much a matter of clarity than it is about right and wrong. I tend to agree with the editor that “1 Hit Die” is clearer than “one Hit Die” but that’s just a gut reaction. My own education (based on the “MLA” format from the Modern Language Association) mandated writing out numbers all the way up to “one hundred” and using numerals only for 101 and higher, but I think that having this as a hard-and-fast rule is a mistake.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with the links to dictionary sites in that ELL thread, I find it strange that the most upvoted and accepted answer is based on the fact that he did a google search and "die" is more commonly used. I would have expected an authorative source as the answer, some are given in the less voted answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 2:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I think establishing what people actually use in practice is much more useful and authoritative than what any given dictionary says. In this case, it appears that OED suggests a usage of the word that is not widely used or accepted. It does appear that it’s more acceptable in Britain than elsewhere, but as a global site of English language enthusiasts, a strong consensus on ELU indicates that they’re in the minority in that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 2:21
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt To clarify a point: that wasn't based on a Google search, it was based on a search of word frequencies in Google Books. Tabulating word frequencies and combinations in a hundred years of printed English is one of the standard linguistics research tools. So it's not just some guy googling the words to see what gets more hits, it's more legitimate than that. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 4:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .