Posted by: Jack Henry | November 26, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Money, money, money

A few weeks ago, during the elections, someone asked me about the term “monies.” Outside of looking up the definition, I couldn’t find anything very helpful as far as when to use the plural, the proper way to spell it, etc. Today, while looking for something else, I stumbled upon this article on Grammar Girl’s website. This is only a portion of it. For the entire article, see Quick and Dirty Tips, by Mignon Fogarty. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Money, Monies, or Moneys?

Michael S. asked:

It’s accepted to say, "to hold moneys for payment in trust." I presume moneys is plural; I’ve also seen it spelled monies. Does this mean, then, that the singular would be "a money"?

Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary list both spellings—moneys and monies—as acceptable plurals of the word money.

Why Do We Need a Plural for Money?

The bigger question is since money is already a mass noun, why do we need monies no matter how we spell it? Both Garner and The Cambridge Guide to English Usage explain that monies is usually used by legal or finance writers to talk about “individual sums” or “discrete sums” of money.

Monies: I Don’t Like It, but It’s Not Going Away

If you’ve listened to my podcast before, you know that most things don’t bug me, but I have to confess that monies annoys me a little bit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sentence in which someone uses monies when money wouldn’t work. For example, one of the examples in Merriam-Webster reads, “Most of the project is being paid for by federal monies.” To my ear, it would work just as well and mean the same thing to say, “The project is being paid for with federal money.” Maybe finance writers see a distinction I don’t see. (I also did some research on the difference between by monies and with money and didn’t find anything that seemed significant.)

But I can tell you that monies is not new and it’s definitely here to stay. The first example of moneys in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1384 from the Wycliffe Bible.

There’s No Such Thing as “A Money”

To answer Michael’s questions:

1) You can spell the plural either way, but I’d go with monies since that’s what most legal and finance writers seem to be using today.

2) Even though monies is the plural, I can’t imagine a sentence in which you’d ever need to talk about “a money.”

Los Reyes: Delicious Burritos, Not-So-Delicious Spelling

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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