Plural Compound Nouns

compound _nouns_60

Plural Linked-Words

How do we pluralize these compound nouns?

Drive-in movie

Passer-by

Does ‘drive-in movie’ become drives-in movie or drive-in movies?

Does ‘passer-by’ become passer-bys or passers-by?

Hold your thought for a moment until you finish reading this explanation thoroughly, then you can go back and answer that question again.

PLURALIZE THE CHIEF ELEMENT

Normally, we pluralize the chief element of a compound word. (e.g., tooth [noun modifier] brushes [chief noun]; black [adjective] birds [chief noun]; copy [verb] cats [chief noun])

1. CLOSED (NO SPACE)

birthday  [n.– n.] –> birthdays

blackbird [adj.– n.] –> blackbirds

crybaby [v.– n.] –> crybabies

handshake [n.– v./n.] –> handshakes

gamekeeper [n.– -er] –> gamekeepers

passerby –> passersby

2. OPEN (TWO WORDS)

couch potato –> couch potatoes

lieutenant general –> lieutenant generals

filet mignon –> filet mignons

chaise longue –> chaise longues

maitre d –> maitre d’s

3. HYPHENATED

mother-in-law –> mothers-in-law

attorney-at-law –> attorneys-at-law

runner-up –> runners-up

grant-in-aid –> grants-in-aid

4. POSESSIVES (OPEN)

traveler’s check –> traveler’s checks

rabbit’s foot –> rabbit’s feet

visitor’s permit –> visitor’s permits

letter of credit –> letters of credit

head of state –> heads of state

PLURALIZE OTHER ELEMENT

Occasionally, we pluralize the final element, especially when the compound includes a preposition, a repeated word, linked words, or the suffix -ful. (An apostrophe is used to avoid a word that can be misread.)

1. PREPOSITIONS

drive-in –> drive-ins

get-together –> get-togethers

go-between –> go-betweens

hand-me-down –> hand-me-downs

show-off –> show- offs

time-out –> time-outs

2. REPEATED WORDS

no-no –> no-nos / no-no’s

so-and-so –> so-and-sos / so-so’s

ding-dong –> ding-dongs

ha-ha –> ha-has / h-ha’s

3. LINKED WORDS

two-by-four –> two-by-fours

do-it-yourself –> do-it-yourselves

know-it-all –> know-it-alls

wannabe –> wannabes

have-not –> have-nots

4. FUL

handful –> handfuls

cupful –> cupfuls

pocketful–> pocketfuls

spoonful –> spoonfuls

armful –> armfuls

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: