Compounds plural or compound plurals? That is the question …
We were already compiling a few notes about the “art of pluralizing” when we got a rash of input (from TV, Twitter, and email) about the plurals of compound nouns, specifically those compound nouns consisting of a noun plus a modifier.
We’re taking our best shots here, so please feel free to disagree or otherwise comment.
daddy longlegs – conventional wisdom would lead us to the plural form of: daddies longlegs, however, since that is cumbersome, we suggest: Harvestmen
Attorney General – no question about this one: Attorneys General
gin and tonic – conventional wisdom (gins and tonic) again loses out here (we defer to ironic1.com for this one ): gin and tonics
notary public – not much question with this one: notaries public
brother-in-law – consistent formation found for this plural: brothers-in-law
maid of honor – 1) for more than one honor: maid of honors; 2) for more than one wedding attendant: maids of honor (please, only one MOH per wedding); for more than one copy of the movie Made of Honor: we suggest DVDs.
man-of-war – encounter one and there are likely more on the beach or in the water: men-of-war
Bride of Chucky – ok, so are you talking about the plural of Chucky’s mates or the number of movies … or, even, the possessive? For our purposes here, today: Brides of Chucky
Good, now we’re getting more input. In a recent Twitter conversation:
@NeillShenton to @GrammarCops “ok, what about multiple spoons full of something? Plural* me that – i’d rather rephrase a sentence than type THAT ugly word.”
* We’re now adding “plural” to our list of Nouns gone bad … Thanks!
@GrammarCops to @NeillShenton “Good one … it’s actually one word ‘spoonfuls.'”
There are likely hundreds of such examples. Please contribute.
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