If I am looking at a list of tasks and I want to say "names of the tasks", is it wrong to say "tasks names" ? I usually see "task names", but how do you know that that means "the names of the tasks" instead of "the names of the task" (a task can have more names) ?

The choice of "task" and "name" here is just an example, it could be anything.

  • If you go 'row-by-row', you can use that - 'task name'. If you are going by a column, it becomes 'tasks' names' (note the apostrophe, however, it's not mandatory as we are talking about the heading of the column. We take liberty there!).
    – Maulik V
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 8:20
  • 1
    As a plural compound noun, I would definitely say "task names". "Tasks' names" sounds clunky and awkward. (The exception would be if, for example, we were criticising the names of the tasks: "The tasks' names are not very intuitive.")
    – JMB
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 8:23
  • @MaulikV I want to say "names of the tasks" so in your metaphor it would mean that I'm going by a column. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 8:50
  • @JMB Yes, that's what I usually see, "task names", but does that mean that we are giving up the ability to tell whether we mean "the names of the tasks" or "the names of the task" ? BTW, why would it make a difference if we were criticizing the names ? Is there something special about criticizing ? This sounds like something new and very interesting for me to learn. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 8:50
  • No, it'd be 'name' of the task then... raw includes singular thing, column includes more than one, doesn't it?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 8:52

1 Answer 1


English does not require that modifiers agree in plurality with nouns like some other languages.

In the phrase task names - task is an adjective answering the question what kind? for the noun names. The s on the end of task would only be present if it's a plural noun (or singular verb - e.g. she tasks me with taking out the trash.).

  • Thanks, this clarifies my doubt, it's task names no matter it's one task or several tasks. So - if I understood correctly - if in some specific situation I need to make it absolutely clear that it's more than one task I will just say The names of the tasks. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 9:52

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