Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing 101: How to Pluralize

To me, pluralizing is one of the easiest tasks you will ever perform with the English language. This is one of the simplest word problems you are ever going to face. The rules could not be any less complex. And yet somehow, people get it wrong every single day. If you follow me on Twitter, you're likely to see me go wild about it on occasion. But that's all going to change, because today I'm going to blog about how to pluralize. Let's put the matter to rest once and for all. 


Rules are Rules

There are few rules in life, but if you learn to master them you will keep yourself out of all sorts of trouble. Don't kill anyone. Always relieve yourself within the boundaries of an appropriate toilet facility. And pluralize words by adding s to them. 

Do these three things, and you're not going to run afoul of me anyway. In all seriousness, grammar errors are not quite as essential as the rule that you absolutely should not commit homicide. However, myself and many other readers do place a good deal of importance on them. 



The thing is, grammar rules are very much hard and fast. The rules don't change, and that should make them quite easy to follow. And if you forget, from now on you can always refer back here and learn the rule yourself. It's not a difficult one if you simplify it. 

In order to make an item plural, which means there is more than one, add s. Like this: 

I bought a desk last week because it was on sale. Now, I have two desks

I couldn't find my left earring but then Eddie saw it in the ashtray. I'm so glad because this is my favorite pair of earrings.

I can use either hand to write, so I can use both hands equally. 

Have more than one of something? Just add s. In almost all cases, this rule will work when you're pluralizing anything. It's not confusing. This rule applies even when you're talking about proper names. 

I haven't seen you at our weekly meeting for a few Wednesdays now. 

I'll keep you in this room for a month of Sundays!

It's something I do on Saturdays
 
This rule applies to almost all proper names. If you were to clone me, for example, you'd get at least two Jades

But it doesn't always apply, and this is where some people get confused about it. Because let's suppose that my name was Mars instead of Jade, and you clone me. You can't end up with a couple of Marss, because that's totally wrong. When a word already ends in s, you can't add s to make it plural...but you can add es

We can't afford to keep up with the Joneses

If you want to paint all four seasons, we'll need multiple canvases

I've got too many classes this semester.

This is how pluralizing works, and I know what you're asking. Where does the apostrophe come in? When do you use 's or s' in pluralizing? 

You don't. This is a big mistake that I see every day (even more often, if I look at Facebook), and it is horrifying. To pluralize, you add s or es and that's how it's done. Don't add the apostrophe. Pluralizing is an incredibly simple grammar rule. Introducing punctuation to the equation adds totally unnecessary complications. Don't add apostrophes when you pluralize. They have no place. All you need is your s, and sometimes es, and that's all you need to know.

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