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We use the acronym "CERT" to represent "Critical Error Reduction Techniques" quite frequently, but when we use CERT in a sentence should it be CERT or CERTs? For example, "Using CERT to Prevent Sprains & Strains" is the title of one of our training modules.

Because there are four critical error reduction techniques, does the acronym, CERT, automatically identify it as plural or should we add the "s" to make it CERTs?

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A major problem is that this initialism or acronym (I'm in the school that reserves the term 'acronym' for those cases where the string is pronounced as a word) does not seem to be in general use - and I've checked reasonably thoroughly. I would have expected CERT to have the expansion Critical Error Reduction Technique, when the answer would often be agreed to be 'the plural is CERTs'. But I can't find supporting evidence for the acceptability of CERT. If you're making up your own terms, you can also make up your own rules of grammar - but don't expect the general public to play ball. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 22 '13 at 22:32
    
Ah - I've found one mention on Google of SafeStart Critical Error Reduction Technique or CERT - singular usage. Thus, plural CERTs (though not in general use). –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 22 '13 at 22:38
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marked as duplicate by tchrist, Kristina Lopez, coleopterist, Matt Эллен, Hellion Mar 25 '13 at 16:52

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Most correct would be to use the acronym without the additional 's', i.e., "Using CERT to..." But that reads rather awkwardly, so you could probably get away with adding the 's'.

Ideally, find a way to avoid using a plural acronym. For example, the four techniques you describe probably together constitute something you could describe as, perhaps, a method, or a methodology if you like redundant constructions. You could then say "Using CERM techniques to..."

That said, unless you can change the acronym, 'CERTs' seems like your best option here.

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Thanks Aaron, I appreciate it. –  Ray Mar 22 '13 at 18:19
    
The trouble is, Aaron is wrong in his initial statement, applying logic to misleading data (CERT is singular if it is acceptable at all - see above). He also seems to feel not to need supporting evidence from any authoritative source. This question has been answered at english.stackexchange.com/questions/503/… and grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm and in Wikipedia . And from the Gregg Reference Manual: 'The general rule (there are exceptions) for acronyms and abbreviations is just add an ‘s’ with no apostrophe.' –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 22 '13 at 22:45
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