THX-1138 THX-1138 - 1 year ago 91
C# Question

Clever way to append 's' for plural form in .Net (syntactic sugar)

I want to be able to type something like:

Console.WriteLine("You have {0:life/lives} left.", player.Lives);

instead of

Console.WriteLine("You have {0} {1} left.", player.Lives, player.Lives == 1 ? "life" : "lives");

so that for
player.Lives == 1
the output would be:
You have 1 life left.

player.Lives != 1
You have 5 lives left.


Console.WriteLine("{0:day[s]} till doomsday.", tillDoomsdayTimeSpan);

Some systems have that built-in. How close can I get to that notation in C#?

EDIT: Yes, I am specifically looking for syntactic sugar, and not a method to determine what singular/plural forms are.

Answer Source

You can create a custom formatter that does that:

public class PluralFormatProvider : IFormatProvider, ICustomFormatter {

  public object GetFormat(Type formatType) {
    return this;

  public string Format(string format, object arg, IFormatProvider formatProvider) {
    string[] forms = format.Split(';');
    int value = (int)arg;
    int form = value == 1 ? 0 : 1;
    return value.ToString() + " " + forms[form];


The Console.WriteLine method has no overload that takes a custom formatter, so you have to use String.Format:

  new PluralFormatProvider(),
  "You have {0:life;lives} left, {1:apple;apples} and {2:eye;eyes}.",
  1, 0, 2)


You have 1 life left, 0 apples and 2 eyes.

Note: This is the bare minimum to make a formatter work, so it doesn't handle any other formats or data types. Ideally it would detect the format and data type, and pass the formatting on to a default formatter if there is some other formatting or data types in the string.

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