In the context of software engineering, when writing American English, which term has to be used and why: "architecture style" or "architectural style"? I'm citing from Chapter 3: Architectural Patterns and Styles on MSDN:

For example, by using architecture styles, you can talk about client/server versus n-tier. Architectural styles can be organized by their key focus area.

Both are possible according to the English grammar. Of course, there are counts from search engines, which are near. But I wish to know any computer-science-related, perhaps historical arguments for/against each of the two options.

This question is similar to Why is "crime story" more correct than "criminal story"?. Some good thoughts are hidden there and can be reused here, but just some of them. E.g., the other discussion is tainted by the fact that "criminal" can also be a noun ("architectural" cannot be a noun), and that "criminal trial" is widely used. Second, here, we have an additional difficulty: we do not mean architectures in the original sense, but we mean software architectures, actually meaning "software-architecture style" and "software architectural style" (if the latter is correct to write anyway). The term "software" is removed for brevity. Third and finally, here we are speaking about software architectures, not about crimes, and about styles, not about stories.

Feel free to move to cs.stackexchange.com or english.stackexchange.com if you feel that the question would be more appropriate there.

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    In the context of that website, I think the variation between architectural styles and "architecture styles" is just poor editing. There's no deeper meaning, just sloppy writing.
    – James K
    Aug 19, 2016 at 23:54
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    Possible duplicate of Why is "crime story" more correct than "criminal story"?
    – ColleenV
    Aug 20, 2016 at 14:37
  • Questions don't have to be exactly the same to be duplicates in this sense. The purpose (for things that aren't exact duplicates) is really to link the questions together to make it easier for someone interested in the same thing to find the answers. The answers to your question aren't going to be so different from the crime/criminal story question that we need to maintain an entirely separate set of answers. The last sentence of your really should be a comment or removed. It's not part of the question.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 20, 2016 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


In English, nouns can be used in a way that resembles the way adjectives are used. For example, an “architecture style” is a “style of architecture”, i.e. a set of architectures with some common elements. An “architectural style” is a style which is about architecture, i.e. a set of things with some common elements which are related to architecture. The two expressions are essentially synonyms.

In the mind of the writer of the passage you quotes, “architecture style” and “architectural style” are clearly exact synonyms, since the writer switched from one to the other mid-paragraph.

  • This is called the genitive case. I would say that if a separate and specific adjective exists, it would be stylistically more clear to use it (e.g., "wooden door" instead of "wood door"). "Architectural" would be my preferred word, in this case.
    – Eikre
    Aug 19, 2016 at 23:32
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    It's not a genitive case (since English doesn't have a case system). Nor is it a possessive (there is no 's) You could call it a noun adjunct.
    – James K
    Aug 19, 2016 at 23:58
  • @LeonMeier Why do you say that we have to use “architecture style”? My answer explains that the two phrasings are essentially equivalent. Aug 20, 2016 at 9:41
  • @LeonMeier I don't understand your reasoning. Round lamps are an architecture style according to my explanation: specifying that lamps are round does specify a set of architectures with common elements, the common elements being the roundness of lamps. I don't understand why you claim that a “much more complete description” should be involved. Aug 20, 2016 at 10:10

In phrases like architecture style you are answering the question which more than does this have an amount of X quality.

For example, by using architecture styles, you can talk about client/server versus n-tier.

So, if, for example, there could be possible confusion/conflation with something like CSS styles, which are only minimally related to software architecture styles, then architecture is a good word choice for clarity.

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