Are apostrophes needed in this phrase?
The whys and the hows
I searched for duplicate questions, but the closest I found was in regard to words inside quotes.
I would say no, but I think I would put them in quotation marks. 'The "whys" and the "hows" of apostrophes aren't easy to understand.'
Actually I was searching for something similar today, and I came across this.
I think it's quite similar to what you're asking :
When forming the plural of words and hyphenated phrases that aren’t nouns but are used as nouns sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t:
- I want no ifs or buts.
- Here are the dos and don’ts of blogging.
- I’ve written 25 thank-yous.
I’m tired of all his maybe’s
Hope this answers your question.
In English, apostrophes indicate either possession or omission.
An example of possession might be
The cat's bed,
Or, in the plural,
The cats' bed.
(A good example of an omission is in a contraction, such as
But an apostrophe is not often (correctly) used it English to mark a plural of a regular noun. (However, decades or centuries (80's, 90's, 1500's), and some brands and abbreviations (M&M's, sometimes Lego's) may have an apostrophe; it depends on what style you adhere to.)
But, to answer your question directly, there should be no apostrophes in that phrase. It's correct as-is.
NOTE: Sometimes you will see an apostrophe before a final -s that does indeed mark a plural. Ben Franklin (if I recall correctly) and his contemporaries would do this. There are also technical contexts where it might be done (although more often with past tense verbs (e.g.
The rule on apostrophes on plurals applies if the word in question is a bona fide word as a plural. My dictionary shows the plural of "why" with a simple "s." Ditto other words such as "wheres" "hows" "buts" "wherefores" "ands" and "ifs" but, oddly, no "therefores."