This shouldn’t be a chapter at all….
Anyway, here we go.
When we want to make something plural (making it more than one), we add an “s” to the word. The exception in most English words is when the word already ends in -s, -s, -ch, or something similar, and then we add an “es”.
I’m not going to speak of busses, buses, women or children here. That’s too complicated for this blog. I’m stayin’ simple.
Where we are goofing up is in adding an apostrophe. Where the heck did that come from? One tree, two trees. Not two tree’s. Simple.
One house. Three houses. One bird. Two thousand birds. It’s not that hard.
Apostrophes indicate that something belongs to someone. Try not to think about that when making something plural.
Bottom line: For simple plurals, add an “s.” Leave the apostrophes out of it.
Living in a college town and teaching at another local university, I hear this one a lot.
The common mistake is saying something like, “I am or she is an alumni of such-and-such college.” That’s impossible. Alumni is the PLURAL form of alumnus.
If you graduated from a college, you are an alumnus of that college. If a bunch of graduates are getting together, then the alumni of that school are gathering.
In other words, “I,” “he,” or “she” means “-us.” : )
(Or you can avoid the whole issue, and just say “alum” for short!)
(And yes, I know that TECHNICALLY, a female grad is an alumna, and the plural of that is alumnae. But I’m being radical and non-sexist, and my guess is that the female terms are on their way out to make way for a gender-neutral set of terms. Yes, I’m making a stand here….)
Note: No one wants a grammar lesson on Boxing Day, so the next post will be on January 2! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Is the phrase “date and time” plural or singular?
If you Google this question, you’ll get a number of conflicting answers, so I will simply offer my best thoughts on the subject.
On the surface, when someone asks you to verify a date and time, or suggests one, it seems logical to some of us to say that “the date and time are” because they seem to be two separate items. Wouldn’t we say “the man and woman are…” or “the table and couches are…”?
But the phrase “date and time” is becoming a singular item in our thoughts and communications, and it’s fine now to say “the date and time is…”.
Think of it this way: The date is the broader term, and the time is a subset of the date; the time is set within the date. So we are expressing a single moment— a time that happens to be set within a certain date, and this is therefore a single entity.
English is such a fluid language, and we must realize we’re in the middle of a transition from a plural to a singular. (Some folks are used to considering them as two separate entities, so they will continue to use the plural. Be kind to them.)
But for the rest of us—the date and time is….!
My thanks to Clint Morgan and his daughter Michelle for this wonderful suggestion!