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Words that are pluralized in the middle?

I was asked to write the plural of daughter in law in an aptitude exam. I wrote it as daughters in law. Please tell me the right answer.

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Jun 11 '11 at 7:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I know from my military experience that the plural of 'Sergeant Major" is "Sergeants Major", so I am inclined to believe you got it right. – Cos Callis Jun 11 '11 at 2:55
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You are right.
When pluralizing words like "-in-law" or "-in-chief", The noun is pluralized, not the modifiers following. Hence:

"Fathers-in-law" not "Father-in-laws"


"Commanders-in-chief" not "Commander-in-chiefs"

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A handy link is available at http://www.ehow.com/how_5620678_spell-plural-fatherinlaw-similar-words.html.

  1. Always connect the parts of these family nouns with hyphens (-) in both the singular and plural. Thus we write "father-in-law," "sister-in-law" or "brother-in-law." It is not considered correct to write them without hyphens.

  2. Form the plural by adding "s" to the noun, and not to "law." Thus we can write, two "mothers-in-law" and three "sisters-in-law." These are the correct forms even though native speakers may not use them.

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