Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sentences constructed with a word written in the singular and parenthetically in the plural are straightforward when that word does not end in -y, e.g.:

List all applicable employee(s).

How does one handle words ending in -y? Is this correct:

I will attend the party(ies).

share|improve this question
I wouldn't get too hung up allowing for the possibility of only one - if you need to allow for more than one anyway, just use the plural. Otherwise it'll do your head in when you consider the grammaticality of your first "instruction" if it were to only be in the singular. "List all applicable employee" is simply nonsense, and I don't see how adding (s) gets you out of that. –  FumbleFingers Dec 7 '11 at 0:46
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

An alternative to the use of parentheses to provide both singular and plural forms is to separate them with a slash:


This would be preferred in this and other similarly awkward formations such as wife/wives, and in special cases such as mouse/mice.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.