The Name

The Japanese game industry is still kicking because it has ninety-nine Phoenix Downs in its inventory! Hah! That’s what happens when you strut through the game of life without having to use any healing items. You’ve got everything at your disposal for the final boss.

Except this final boss is seriously hard. It has way too many hit points. And is biting off the heads of your party members, one by one. And it heals itself. I hate bosses that heal themselves. But there is still hope! Spam those Phoenix Downs until they are no more, Japan.


As the battle rages on, one very important question comes to mind.

Is that really the right way to pluralize Phoenix Down?

Before settling on the name of this blog, I (Michelle) asked my geeky Facebook friends what they thought. While “Phoenix Downs” rolls off the tongue naturally for me, you don’t pluralize the down feathers of a bird like that. Not normally. The writer in me was agonized. So, there was a dilemma: should it be 99 Phoenix Downs, or 99 Phoenix Down?

I was hoping the answer would be a little more…obvious.

While this poll was useless, their comments were not.

Except Matt. Screw you, Matt.

Everyone (mostly) had points that made sense. The way you say it really can change the structure of a sentence.

Thinking of it like that, you could say something like, “I have ninety-nine Phoenix Down with me.”

And, while I haven’t bothered to confirm this claim (because I am lazy), I trust her; if you don’t pluralize stuff like that in Japanese, it feels a bit truer to the source if you say “Down”.


“Downs” could make sense if you were referring to clumps of down stored in separate pouches, making them singular items; the noun takes on a bit of a different meaning in that context, doesn’t it? Or is the item a lone feather? Most art of the item seems to feature just one. Then “Downs” would sound better. Phoenix Down is a proper noun that takes on its own method of pluralization. Maybe? Or maybe I’m just making shit up.

Jim's thoughts

Out of all the explanations I’ve seen on the matter, this was the one that made the most sense to me. Granted, there could be a lone factory with a depressed phoenix, the only one of its kind, that gets plucked naked before each worldwide shipment, rendering this untrue.

This is exhausting. Is there a definitive line of text in a Final Fantasy that will answer this? Will Square Enix just tell me the right way to do it? Is there a right way to do it? I don’t know. It hurts my head.

I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter. Do what sounds right to you, and you can find the logic to back it. Either way makes sense. I just like “Downs” because it sounds right to me. I’m gunna stick an “s” on the ends of my inventory items, whether you like it or not.

If you agree or disagree, please leave a comment! Any more insight on this predicament is welcomed.

EDIT (5/8/2012): DAMN IT

FFIII instruction booklet

Read this.

So then I got Final Fantasy III on DS.

“Are” is used with plural nouns.

That noun is plural. “Down” is already plural. There’s proof of the right way to do it, right here in this instruction booklet.


My spirit is crippled.

Added “Grammatically Incorrect Proof That” to the tagline at the top of the page.

EDIT (5/10/2012): WAIT A SECOND

This fellow is wonderful. Thank you, Andrew. I jumped the gun. Calm down, me!

While I’m glad that I haven’t screwed up, I still don’t know how to pluralize this word.

Added “(Maybe)” to the tagline at the top of the page.

EDIT (4/12/2013): My friend actually made this comment in November, months ago, and I forgot to add this in. Oops.

Eric's ThoughtsNOTHING MATTERS. Translation issues abound. I think this further solidifies the “do whatever you want and it’s accurate” claim. …or more like, “do whatever you want and it’s wrong”.

One Response to “The Name”


  1. Wait, what? An introduction? « 99 Phoenix Downs - April 30, 2012

    […] The Name […]

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