Points of view on point of views

point_of_views_euronewsThis week TV channel Euronews inaugurated its new global HQ, a bright green cube, in the French city of Lyon. As part of the celebrations, animations were displayed on the side of the building. Among these I was struck by the phrase point of views, which seemed to me a mistake.

I, like the major dictionaries, feel that the correct plural should be points of view, like prisoners of war. However the logic isn’t quite so clear in the case of point of view. Prisoners of war definitely refers to several prisoners, regardless of the number of wars. But when we pluralize point of view, we’re talking not only about several points or positions but also about several views.

As for the display in Lyon, I think the influence of French can be detected. Point de vues is established in French alongside points de vue. (The -s is silent in French, so the two forms sound the same.) Point de vues can be used with both singular and plural articles: Google gives plenty of results for ‘le point de vues’ (singular) as well as ‘les point de vues’ (plural).

If we search Google for English point of views, we find the phrase used quite widely, but not generally by professional writers, and a number of those who use it seem not to be natives. It’s worth noting that the form points of view is sustained in the minds of many Britons as the title of a BBC programme which has been on TV for over half a century:bbc_points_of_viewPoints of view is a bit harder to say than point of views, as it has the sequence /nts/ in the middle:

But I’d recommend sticking to it if native English is your target. On the other hand, point of views seems to exist as a part of international English, and it’s equally understandable.