KU Style Guide


Follow these guidelines in forming and using plural words:

Most words: Add s: boys, girls, ships, villages.

Words ending in CH, S, SH, SS, X and Z: Add es: churches, lenses, parishes, glasses, boxes, buzzes. (Monarchs is an exception.)

Words ending in IS: Change is to es: oases, parentheses, theses.

Words ending in Y: If y is preceded by a consonant or qu, change y to i and add es: armies, cities, navies, soliloquies. (See proper names below for an exception.) Otherwise, add s: donkeys, monkeys.

Words ending in O: If o is preceded by a consonant, most plurals require es: buffaloes, dominoes, echoes, heroes, potatoes. But there are exceptions: pianos.

Words ending in F: In general, change f to v and add es: leaves, selves. (Roof, roofs is an exception.)

Latin endings: Latin-root words ending in us change us to i: alumnus, alumni. (Words that have taken on English endings by common usage are exceptions: prospectuses, syllabuses.)

Most ending in a change to ae: alumna, alumnae (formula, formulas is an exception.)

Most ending in um add s: memorandums, referendums, stadiums. Among those that still use the Latin ending; addenda, curricula, media.

Use the plural that Webster’s New World College Dictionary lists as most common for a particular sense of word.

Form change: man, men; child, children; foot, feet; mouse, mice; etc. Caution: When s is used with any of these words it indicates possession and must be preceded by an apostrophe: men’s, children’s, etc.

Words the same in singular and plural: corps, chassis, deer, moose, sheep, etc.

The sense in a particular sentence is conveyed by the use of a singular or plural verb.

Words plural in form, singular in meaning: Some take singular verbs: measles, mumps, news. Others take plural verbs: grits, scissors.

Compound words: Those written solid add s at the end: cupfuls, handfuls, tablespoonfuls.

For those that involve separate words or words linked by a hyphen, make the most significant word plural:
— Significant word first: adjutants general, aides-de-camp, attorneys general, courts-martial, daughters-in-law, passers-by, postmasters general, presidents-elect, secretaries general, sergeants major.
— Significant word in the middle: assistant attorneys general, deputy chiefs of staff.
— Significant word last: assistant attorneys, assistant corporation counsels, major generals.

Words as words: Do not use ’s: His speech had too many “ifs,” “ands” and “buts.”

Proper names: Most ending in es or s or z add es: Charleses, Joneses, Gonsazlezes.

Most ending in y add s even if preceded by a consonant: the Duffys, the Kennedys, the two Kansas Citys. Exceptions include Alleghenies and Rockies.

For others, add s: the Carters, the McCoys, the Mondales.

Figures: Add s: The custom began in the 1920s. The airline has two 727s. Temperatures will be in the low 20s. There were five size 7s.

(No apostrophes, an exception to Webster’s New World College Dictionary guideline under “apostrophe.”)

Single letters: Use ’s: Mind your p’s and q’s. He learned the three R’s and brought home a report card with four A’s and two B’s. The Oakland A’s won the pennant.

Multiple letters: Add s: She knows her ABCs. I gave him five IOUs. Four VIPs were there.

Problems, doubts: For questions not covered by this book, use the plural that Webster’s New World College Dictionary lists as most common for a particular sense of a word.