# Plurals

Q. I am working with an author who insists on referring to a photo that was taken in a certain decade as “this 1950’s photo.” Is the apostrophe needed, and is it in the correct place?

Q. How would you handle the plural of a term of art like “artist’s proof,” which itself contains a possessive as the first word, when referring to proofs of multiple artists? It seems clear that we would say “artist’s proofs by the engraver Combet” to refer to several proofs by the single engraver Combet. I think we would also say “artist’s proofs by the two engravers Combet and Haley” (referring to several proofs by each engraver), because we are using the plural of the term of art or unit “artist’s proof,” which is shorthand for “a proof of an engraving by an artist.” Stated differently, adding an “s” to proofs is sufficient to make the term of art “artist’s proofs” plural, and we don’t need to use the plural of the first term as well when two different engravers are involved, since we are still just referring to multiple examples of the term of art “artist’s proof.” We should distinguish this case from the use of “artist” as a normal possessive and not as part of a term of art, in which case we would need to use the plural of the possessive (artists’) when referring to proofs by several artists, but I don’t think we would say “artists’ proofs by the two engravers Combet and Haley” when using “artist’s proofs” as a term of art. If we decide that the possessive of “artist” is singular in the case of multiple proofs by a single engraver and plural in the case of multiple engravers, we are still left with the unclear case when the number of engravers is not specified, i.e., when just using the term “artist’s proofs.” An analogous situation might arise with a term like “baker’s dozen” but not with normal possessives like “manufacturers’ coupons.”

Q. To correctly style the plural of a word as word, or phrase as phrase, (1) do we italicize the core word and leave the s or es ending in roman type: An excessive number of hads, hases, hises, hes, shes, ises, whereases, yeses, nos, etc.? Or (2) should the items be in roman: An excessive number of hads, hases, hises, hes, shes, ises, whereases, yeses, nos, etc.? Or (3) should the items be in roman, enclosed in quotation marks: An excessive number of “hads,” “hases,” “hises,” “hes,” “shes,” “ises,” “whereases,” “yeses,” “nos,” etc.? Please, no recasts.

Q. How do you pluralize an acronym where the plural form of the word written out does not use an s? For example, if I have an acronym of ALC that stands for Adorable Little Child and want to make the acronym plural (i.e., Adorable Little Children), do I use the s or leave it out? If I use the s and write the plural acronym as ALCs, I feel like I’m saying Adorable Little Childrens, which is not grammatically correct. Would ALC be used for both the singular and plural?

Q. In references to more than one century, is it correct to use century when expressing a range and centuries when expressing a block of time? Is it “from the late eighteenth to early twentieth century” but “during the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries”?

Q. Can CMOS weigh in on the pluralization of trademarked materials? We have an internal debate over “iPhone 7s” versus “iPhones 7.”

Q. While copyediting several scientific research papers in different fields (mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, etc.), we encounter some uncountable nouns used in countable forms (with plural s and preceded by an or a). Some of these words may be used across the paper more than a hundred times, and correcting these may require rephrasing some parts. The authors of the papers complain that this is how they use these terms. Is it possible to use these uncountable nouns in the countable forms if this is how they are used in the scientific field? Also, should I question every single noun used in the research paper and check whether it is countable or uncountable?

Q. If Q & A stands for question and answer (as in a Q & A session), how would you make this a plural, as in “The police officer recorded the [questions and answers] in his notebook”? I assume Qs & As is correct but would appreciate your confirmation.

Q. Our marketing people want to know which is correct: The buyer(s) purchase a policy or the buyer(s) purchases a policy.

Q. In a policy, I have to indicate that the word facility could be plural. The person editing the document has written it as facility(s). What is the correct way to portray nouns that end in y when necessary to indicate they could be singular or plural?