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Plural of an acronym? #1364
04/13/00 09:43 AM
04/13/00 09:43 AM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 1
M
midnight Offline OP
stranger
midnight  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 1
Hello,

This is driving me nuts! How do I write the plural of an acroynm?

Is it PCs or PC's?

I have been told by someone with a degree that you absolutely don't need an apostrophe, however I found a dictionary definition of apostrophe that says it is used for omission of letters from a word, the possessive case, and the plurals of letters, numbers and abbreviations.

Variations with plurals and possession:

One OS (operating system), many OS's.Many OSs? Many OSes?

It is the OS's primary function. (one operating system, posession)

Is is the OSs' primary function. (many operating systems, posession)

Aaargh. Help!


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1365
04/14/00 01:19 PM
04/14/00 01:19 PM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,027
Switzerland
wsieber Offline
old hand
wsieber  Offline
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Posts: 1,027
Switzerland
Hi,
I remember having encountered "NGOs" for the plural of NGO. A case could also be made for omitting the "s" altogether..


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1366
04/14/00 01:44 PM
04/14/00 01:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 10,538
this too shall pass
tsuwm Offline
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tsuwm  Offline
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this too shall pass
Here's what W3 has to say:
Abbreviations formed by literation and used as nouns add either apostrophe and -s or more often just -s.
GI -> GIs or GI's, IQ -> IQs or IQ's

so I guess it's up to the individual copy editor?


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1367
04/20/00 09:57 AM
04/20/00 09:57 AM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,004
London, UK
shanks Offline
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shanks  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,004
London, UK
Hi midnight

As someone with some 'proofchecking' responsibilities in my company, I refuse to allow apostrophes for the plurals of acronyms. I suppose it is a personal thing, but I just can't abide it.

Similarly, I refuse to countenance the abbreviations of decades as 60's and always change it to '60s, and so on.

These are, however, my idiosyncrasies. I think that the apostrophed form will eventually prevail, merely because I see more and more people using it these days as a matter of course. I may wish to preserve the distinction between the various uses: "the PC's peripherals are useless" (singular, possessive); "the PCs have useless peripherals" (plural); and "the PCs' hard drives are useless" (plural, possessive), if only to avoid the plural possessive "the PC's' peripherals are useless and may need to be recalled". (I know this is stretching it, but amateur language mavens like me need our hard cases in order to justify bad, or simply prejudiced, laws!)

cheer

the sunshine warrior


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1368
04/20/00 01:51 PM
04/20/00 01:51 PM
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Posts: 10,538
this too shall pass
tsuwm Offline
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tsuwm  Offline
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I agree with just adding an -s; but here is an exception. I have coined an acronym for use on my web page and for style purposes have rendered it as lower case (to wit, wwftd) -- just adding -s seems to muddle the acronym, so I have used the -'s form. (to make matters worse, the plural of the expanded acronym leaves the acronym as 'wwftd'...)


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1369
04/20/00 05:37 PM
04/20/00 05:37 PM
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Posts: 1,981
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jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah
jmh  Offline
Pooh-Bah
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Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,981
I agree there should be no apostrophe.

On the other hand, there's a very simple answer - don't use acronyms.


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1370
04/20/00 10:05 PM
04/20/00 10:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 140
Melbourne, Australia
lusy Offline
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lusy  Offline
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Posts: 140
Melbourne, Australia
I daren't suggest, tsuwm, that the plural of your expanded acronym would strictly be ww'sftd. This way madness lies!

lusy


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1371
04/20/00 10:50 PM
04/20/00 10:50 PM
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Philip Davis Offline
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Philip Davis  Offline
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I agree for many acronyms the plural is logically the acronym without a 's', although if the sense is clear it doesn't really matter (and the way to make the sense clear is to avoid acronyms where possible). More irritating is the habit that some have of sticking s on the end of abbreviations of units of measurement, i.e. 1kg and 10kgs. This is a) unnecessary, since the plural is obvious b) potential confusing since s is the agreed abbreviation for second and 10kgs could be (and under the System International rules should be) read as 10 kilogram seconds. (Oh and these abbreviations are not followed by a full stop (period) either, for similar reasons)


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1372
04/20/00 11:10 PM
04/20/00 11:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 10,538
this too shall pass
tsuwm Offline
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tsuwm  Offline
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You're absolutely right, Philip. but the *potential issue is with acronyms that get adopted into the language as new words, a la SNAFU or RADAR; so we can speak of multiple snafus and radars.

I hope that this will be the case with wwftds. <g>

BTW, it's pronounced WIF tid(s)


Re: Plural of an acronym? #1373
04/21/00 12:01 AM
04/21/00 12:01 AM
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Posts: 6,511
lower upstate New York
AnnaStrophic Offline
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AnnaStrophic  Offline
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lower upstate New York
ww'sftds, schmww'sftds.


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