Should You Call Them Praying Mantis, Praying Mantids, or Praying Mantises?

Should You Call Them Praying Mantis, Praying Mantids, or Praying Mantises?

The correct plural form of "praying mantis" often leads to confusion, especially between British English and American English speakers. This peculiar insect's name derives from the prayer-like stance of its raptorial forelegs. But how should we pluralize it? Is it praying mantis, praying mantids, or praying mantises? From a UK perspective, both "praying mantises" and "praying mantids" are considered acceptable plurals. However, in the US, "praying mantises" is preferred while "praying mantids" is still considered an acceptable variant.

The UK Perspective

In British English, it is generally acceptable to use either "praying mantises" or "praying mantids" as the plural form.

  • "There were several praying mantises in the garden, camouflaged amongst the plants."
  • "We spotted a few of the smaller praying mantids hunting for food beneath the leaves."

Both of these plural forms are commonly used and understood in the UK. Some British English speakers may have a preference for one over the other, but neither would be considered incorrect.

The form "praying mantis" is not typically used as a plural noun phrase on its own in British English. Saying "there were several praying mantis in the garden" would sound quite awkward and ungrammatical.

So in summary, British English speakers can flexibly use either "praying mantises" or "praying mantids" to refer to multiple praying mantises.

The US Perspective

In American English, the plural form "praying mantises" is predominantly preferred as the only correct option.

  • "After the rain, numerous praying mantises emerged in search of a meal."
  • "We observed the praying mantises hunting small insects among the trees."

The form "praying mantids" is still used and understood in the US, but it is viewed as a less common or secondary variant. Many American English speakers consider "praying mantises" as the conventional plural form.

Referring to multiple praying mantises as "praying mantis" is generally seen as incorrect in American English, just as in British English.

So American English has a stronger orientation towards exclusively using "praying mantises" as the plural, while "praying mantids" would sound irregular or unconventional (though still comprehensible).

In Conclusion

To summarize this transatlantic difference:

  • In the UK, both "praying mantises" and "praying mantids" are broadly accepted plurals.
  • In the US, "praying mantises" is strongly favored, while "praying mantids" is irregular.
  • Simply using "praying mantis" as a plural is incorrect in both variants of English.

So feel free to choose between "praying mantises" or "praying mantids" if you're writing for a British audience. But stick to "praying mantises" if you wish to observe the conventions of US English.

Ultimately, the uncommon species deserves an uncommon plural, so it's no wonder its multiple forms lead to such confusion in English! But with this guide, you can now confidently refer to the peculiar mantises (or mantids) in writing, whether your readers reside in the UK or the US.

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