Posted by: Jack Henry | August 20, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Q&A

The Editing Triad is in a three-day meeting this week, so I will keep this brief. Today’s tidbit is a quick Q&A from the Chicago Manual of Style:

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?

A. “Facility or facilities” and “one or more facilities” are both clear. And often the simple singular does just fine in implying one or more: “In the event that your facility is struck by terrorists, this contract is void.” You can see that if two facilities were struck by terrorists, the clause would apply to both.

Note: Using parentheses to indicate singular or plural and then altering the verbs the same way (is/are, goes/go) drives me batty. Stay away from this kind of construction so you don’t lose your message among all of the switching subjects, different verb conjugations, and extra punctuation.

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