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Is it correct to use "balances of nature" plural form, for natural equilibriums or are there some other ways to say the same thing in plural form?

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    As written, I think J.R.'s answer is best. This phrase has a plural, and he tells you what it is. That said, it's hard to think of a situation when using the plural would be appropriate. Perhaps you could edit the question to include details about what exactly you're trying to express, so people could better judge whether the plural form is appropriate. – snailplane Jun 30 '13 at 6:19
  • What I have understood so far is that is better to avoid if possible as Bob said, but also that is quite widely used in specific contexts. – Kiron Jun 30 '13 at 16:08
  • So this is my "context": is within a list of different items (so I said that it is like a "title") included in one of four booktrailer about the wizard of Oz novel. These trailers are originally written in Italian. English version of them is on the way... ;-) These are the Italian versions: youtube.com/watch?v=gyaq2vRJP_0 youtube.com/watch?v=cVYVhYNzfnA youtube.com/watch?v=tcXSsZSBvAQ youtube.com/watch?v=R_1YWXOvAbg The phrase is in the second one, mins 1:25 youtu.be/cVYVhYNzfnA?t=1m25s – Kiron Jun 30 '13 at 16:21
  • Here is the English version of the first one: youtube.com/watch?v=wS3qlNY7M7M – Kiron Jun 30 '13 at 16:25
  • Here is the English version for the second one: youtube.com/watch?v=Vy6J0pIBdfQ – Kiron Jun 30 '13 at 17:29
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Balances of nature is indeed the proper way to pluralize the term.

A Google books search reveals thousands of instances, many of them in scholarly works. Here is one:

Knowledge is so imperfect about the balances of nature, and these balances so fundamental to the existence and the perpetuation of life, that they should not be tampered with, even if the risk involved is small. (The Wisconsin Seminar on Natural Resource Policies in Relation to Economic Development and International Cooperation, Vol. 1)

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  • Great! thank you. But doing the same search with google book for "ecological balances" we get more and more results, 54 against 11.100; what do you think about that. Could be both correct? "Balances of nature" was my first choice, but I've received many invites to change it. – Kiron Jun 29 '13 at 22:13
  • I would say both are correct, but I would also say that in general you are safe avoiding the plural form for the most part. It looks like I might be in a minority on that, however. – BobRodes Jun 30 '13 at 0:56
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    I tried to answer the pluralization question you posed. As for which is better, I'd have to know more about how you're planning to use it: What is the context? Who is the audience? P.S. As for "many invites to change it" – do you mean from Bob? Or have others given you the same advice? (I'd count Bob's advice as "one" invite to change it, not "many.") – J.R. Jun 30 '13 at 1:25
  • We routinely speak of ecosystems in the plural, because it's often easy to envisage small self-contained units (plus we routinely create them, in research contexts). But balance of Nature is something of a "set phrase", and I personally would rather not pluralise it in that exact form. Natural balances, maybe I could live with. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 30 '13 at 4:14
  • Here's an Ngram. That said, to get the full picture, you'd need to examine each of the usages in context, because there's no way to know if the writers are using the terms in places where they would be interchangeable – there might be a reason one term is chosen over the other. – J.R. Jun 30 '13 at 8:30
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One could certainly argue otherwise, but I will say that there is only one nature, and therefore only one equilibrium thereof. So I only use the singular, and I would say that you may quite safely do the same.

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  • Thank you, I can be agree with you that there could be only one if we consider the whole planet, universe, etc. but if we are talking about some "small" ecosystems? Could be better to use "natural equilibriums" or "natural equilibria"? – Kiron Jun 29 '13 at 16:27
  • In that particular case, I would use "ecological balance." An example would be "If you use a natural wastewater treatment system, avoid flushing chemicals down the toilet as it will upset the ecological balance of the system." – BobRodes Jun 29 '13 at 16:30
  • Also for "ecological balance", always in singular form? I mean in general, not in your example – Kiron Jun 29 '13 at 16:32
  • An interesting question. I think you would find people arguing both sides of this one: "I would like to compare the ecological balance of the two systems" vs. "I would like to compare the ecological balances of the two systems." I lean towards the latter, and have the feeling that each has a slightly different meaning. But certainly, it is correct to say "Discrete systems have discrete ecological balances," so it isn't ALWAYS in singular form. – BobRodes Jun 29 '13 at 16:39
  • ok, thank you, I get it... I was looking for a plural form of that to use as a title – Kiron Jun 29 '13 at 17:00
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It is more common to speak of "the balance of nature" then "the balances of nature".

The singular describes the idea that nature is in a stable state meaning that changes to part of nature will affect other parts.

The plural emphasizes the plurality, i.e. there are multiple things being balanced.

After seeing your context, I would personally use an alternative that will let you keep the "<adjective> <noun>" pattern.

Enchanted Forests...

Fragile Ecosystems... (common phrase)

Delicate Balances... (common phrase, audience will infer "natural" from the image displayed)

Unyielding Fundamentalists...

etc.

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  • Thank you for your answer too and for having seen my context – Kiron Jul 1 '13 at 15:01

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