People can say ‘vinyls’ if they want to

Arguing grammar in the vinyl vs vinyls debate has become a kind of holier than thou gatekeeping.

October 1, 2017

As a music fan, the opportunities for you to be labeled a “bad fan” are limitless. Maybe you only started listening to your favourite band after their most mainstream release. Perhaps you never saw the YouTube channel they had before they became famous.

Or, y’know, maybe you just say vinyls instead of vinyl.

To those outside of the record collecting community, this must seem like a ridiculous problem.

Who is enforcing these rules? Why does it matter? In all honesty, it doesn’t… but let’s dive right in anyway.

Visit any vinyl related video on YouTube and check the comment section. I can guarantee one of two things: either the creator said “vinyls” and the comment section is full of people denouncing their status as a collector, or a commenter said “vinyls” and other commenters are denouncing their status as a collector. Whichever one proves true, it’s an excessive reaction, no?

“But it’s all about linguistics,” they cry, “vinyls just isn’t a word, and I am trying to help you not sound like a big dumb idiot!”

But here’s where it gets tricky.

Vinyl/vinyls falls into a very tricky spot in the world of words. Many argue that it should be “vinyl” because it’s a zero plural, like deer or fish. Others consider it to be a mass noun where it would only be “vinyls” if it were referring to a variety of types, like cheeses or beers. But then wouldn’t you have a collection of vinyls? Unless you’ve got 200 copies of Michael Jackson’s Thriller on the shelf, it’s definitely a variety of pressings. Or is it one type because they’re all records?

My head is spinning.

Often, your ability to navigate the lingo can prove how long you’ve been around and how deep down the rabbit hole you’ve gone. For instance, I will never forget the Grand Battle of 2011 between Directioners and Directionators (the latter obviously being the name of ~fake fans~.)

Knowing the proper terminology can be useful if it’s important, but let’s not forget… vinyl was nearly a dead format mere years ago. There was no terminology of it known to people born on this side of 1991. New bands weren’t clamouring to get their pressings by release day because there was no demand. There was absolutely no way a new artist in the millennium would be setting aside budget for vinyl records of all things. But then artists started to release exclusive colour pressings, and for a generation raised on collecting Pokemon cards and a capitalist society… how were we to resist? Vinyl sales actually surpassed digital downloads in 2015. That’s insane.


Shaming people for saying ‘vinyls’ feels more like creating a fake rule to establish who is welcome in the group, instead of being something people genuinely care about.

But it also proves that the format was brought back by a new generation who can invent their own set of rules. Who’s forcing us to live within rules in the world of music anyway?

Well, before the resurgence of vinyl collecting, it was a very exclusive group of people who participated in the activity. Shaming people for saying “vinyls” feels more like creating a fake rule to establish who is welcome in the group, instead of being something people genuinely care about. It’s just a way to remain elite above new collectors instead of embracing them and passing the wax onto a new generation.

For a group that’s so adamant about having found the best way to listen to music, they sure don’t want anyone else to join in their heightened music experience. It’s worth mentioning that there are entire message boards devoted to the “vinyl vs. vinyls” war, and linguists around the world do not have a definitive answer. They said the rule came from inside the community.

And if you really want to dive in with me, let’s look at who is generally on the receiving end of these verbal scoldings. Hint: who is also constantly berated for not listening to “good” music, or for only liking an artist because they’re attractive? Yup, it’s young women who are usually the ones being marketed to and exploited for maximum profits, always being told that their tastes aren’t refined enough to be respected. But that’s a whole other stack of vinyls we’re not going to flip through today.

So say whatever you want. I cannot stress enough that it literally does not matter. Your vinyls will not crumble into dust if they hear you speak the dreaded S, and you will not gain access to some super secret organization if you choose to never speak another S as long as you live.

Or hey, you can always save yourself the trouble and just say “records”.

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