My apologies in advance as I'm nowhere near a grammar expert - just a lowly programmer.

So an "Acura RLX" is a car model. An RLX is a noun, not an initialization or anything. It's stylized when written as RLX in all capital letters.

What's the correct plural form? I had somebody argue it's "RLX's", but I referenced an AP style guide, which says, of apostrophes, "DO NOT USE: For plurals of numerals or multiple-letter combinations."

Also, is it "RLXes" or "RLXs" if the apostrophe is not supposed to be present?

It ends in an X, so I'd think it would be "RLXes" just like "boxes". And what about "a room with multiple Alex(es|s|'s)?

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    Acuras RLX sounds slick. Works for attorneys-general or mothers-in-law. – John Lawler Sep 23 '15 at 0:50
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    That is a bit slick, but do keep in mind this has to work using software and on just the single word "RLX", eg. Honda "Civics" or Acura "RLX(es|s|'s)". "Hondas Civic" just doesn't seem right when talking about "Honda Civics". So if "RLXes" for example is correct, I'd rather just use that. Also this is for a web site, not formal writing (if that matters). I'd definitely be satisfied with an "either is correct" answer. – Brett Gmoser Sep 23 '15 at 0:53
  • There really isn't a good solution unless one has been provided already by the web. Pronouncing /arɛlɛksəz/ is easy. But the writing system is not ready for the challenge provided by pluralizing RLX. – John Lawler Sep 23 '15 at 0:59
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    If you look at the similar construct GTX (Plymouth GTX) the plural is almost always written as GTXes, so I'd say that's a good precedent. – barbecue Sep 23 '15 at 1:00
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    You have your answer— it's a matter of style, not grammar. Adding the apostrophe is the older convention, but nowadays AP, CMOS, and APA all say to omit the apostrophe. Similarly, print media overwhelmingly seem to use NSXs, WRXs, and MKXs, so RLXs would seem to follow a convention. – choster Sep 23 '15 at 1:28

There was formerly a respectable tradition (17–19c) of using the apostrophe for noun plurals, especially in loanwords ending in a vowel (as in We doe confess Errata's, Leonard Lichfield, 1641, and Comma's are used, Phillip Luckcombe, 1771) and in the consonants s, z, ch, sh (as in waltz's and cotillions, Washington Irving, 1804).

Although this practice is rare in 20c standard usage, the apostrophe of plurality continues in at least five areas:

  1. With abbreviations such as V.I.P.'s or VIP's, although forms such as VIPs are now widespread.
  2. With letters of the alphabet, as in "His i's are just like his a's" and "Dot your i's and cross your t's." In the phrase do's and don'ts, the apostrophe of plurality occurs in the first word but not the second, which has the apostrophe of omission: by and large, the use of two apostrophes close together (as in don't's) is avoided.
  3. In decade dates, such as the 1980's, although such apostrophe-free forms as the 1980s are widespread, as are such truncations as the '80s, the form the '80's being unlikely.
  4. In family names, especially if they end in -s, as in Keeping up with the Jones's, as opposed to the Joneses, a form that is also common.

So there are 300+ years of tradition of 's for plural forms of non-words, and about 20 years without. I suspect the internet has much to do with this as it has decimated proper punctuation from the English language in many contexts (texting, tweeting, IM'ing, etc.). I would write 1000's of uses and not 1000s of uses. It's the convention I was taught growing up, although it seems most of the major style guides have since abandoned it.

You said it yourself, "BMW 335is" is confusing. We have five BMW 335i's on the lot. I feel there is no confusion with possessive there. The point of punctuation is to lend clarity. Non-words don't have innate plural forms, and possessive is always easy to tell from context. And when you start to stack structures you usually have options:

"We have five BMW 335is' mufflers." "We have the mufflers from five BMW 335i's."

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    Perhaps this is best viewed as a case by case basis, with tradition to guide us but not adhere to too strictly. In your opinion, why do you think the 's is being abandoned in favor of the s ending? Personally, I prefer 80s VIPs or RLXs. But who am I to question 300 years of tradition? – michael_timofeev Sep 23 '15 at 3:15
  • Is it possible the apostrophe is taking the place of a letter such as "y" "I" or "e" ? – michael_timofeev Sep 23 '15 at 3:18
  • Welcome to ELU.SE. I hope you don't mind a formatting edit to break up a large amount of text and introduce italics for mentions, just to make it a little easier on the eye. Please do continue to contribute! – Andrew Leach Sep 23 '15 at 6:11
  • Accepted as the most comprehensive answer. Thank you! Shame there aren't any truly hard rules for me to go by. – Brett Gmoser Sep 24 '15 at 2:12

The RL in "RLX" stands for "refined luxury." The X is a continuation of that model line. Things like this are called acronyms, (like FBI, USA, NYPD) and are capitalized. They're not really words, so I don't think we should be applying spelling rules to this "word."

If we look at similar cases we see a common thread. Although IV is an abbreviation ("intravenous") if you search on the web for "IVs" you find many hits for people talking about two such things, as in "They had to stick to IVs in my arm."

If you look for "X" in mathematics, you will wind that people will add an "s," as in "If I cancel out the Xs on both sides..." You will see that some people write "x's" (same as when they talk about decades: "I like music from the 80's.") I would not put an apostrophe "s" after RLX as in RLX's as this would indicate ownership.

In looking up "USA" there is a tendency to write "USAs" (http://alert-conservation.org/issues-research-highlights/2014/5/12/when-it-comes-to-climate-change-there-are-two-usas)

For the car GTS, some people use GTSs (http://rennlist.com/forums/997-forum/881961-help-me-decide-between-these-two-gtss.html)

I think there is a good precedence for adding an "s" at the end of RLX to make "RLXs" In speaking, people will say RLXs with an "es" sound at the end but I don't think we need to transfer that logic or spelling "rule" to this situation. In any case, as I mentioned above, RLX is not a word.

I would go with "RLXs"

  • Thanks. Remembering that I need to apply non-human programming logic to this, and can't really take into account "the RL stands for refined luxury" type stuff, is "RLXes" also correct as it ends in X the same way as "box"? What about the plural of "Alex" keeping in mind that Alex is a name in the same way RLX is a name (the all-caps is just the preferred stylized way of writing it)? Also, regardless of common usage, is there any sort of source you can cite as a hard rule? – Brett Gmoser Sep 23 '15 at 1:43
  • @BrettGmoser what do you mean by "non human programming?" Sorry I'm not a computer savvy person. What exactly is the situation? Box is a word, same as Watch, Kiss, or the verb Wash all of which take "es" ending. RLX isn't. – michael_timofeev Sep 23 '15 at 1:47
  • I have to pluralize pretty much any vehicle model name you can think of - even some that don't presently exist. That would include "Honda Civics", "BMW 335is" (that's another tough one), and "Acura RLX(es|s|whatever)". The data comes from a database, and there's never a human looking at how it should be pluralized. A computer has to make that decision based on hard rules, not just "I feel like these should be called 'RLXs' because that seems to be the accepted way of doing it". – Brett Gmoser Sep 23 '15 at 1:49
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    @BrettGmoser Unfortunately, language does not work that way, especially when it comes to names; consider what Toyota suggested as a marketing stunt in What is the plural of Prius? Proper nouns are extremely idiosyncratic with regards to things like articles, pluralization, and capitalization. But since the Xes form does not seem to be commonly used in the contemporary automotive press, Xs is arguably safer. – choster Sep 23 '15 at 1:57
  • @BrettGmoser I do not have a hard rule. It is possible this is covered in Chicago Manual of Style of AP Style Guide. Perhaps another user can locate this. I have a feeling that there will be some degree of opinion on this. I would tell the computer to add "s." There is a car called the GT, and when I was looking this up I noticed people saying the plural in different ways because there could be confusion with GTS. For Alex, I would add an "s." – michael_timofeev Sep 23 '15 at 2:04

Your friend has multiple RSXs. I just hope he doesn't drive them too fast or he might need a bunch of MRIs from some qualified MDs. Then he'll have to hit up one or more ATMs to pay some CPAs to handle his debt.

  • The RSX was a great car. Alas, about the only thing it shares with the RLX is its marque and its pluralization. – choster Sep 23 '15 at 1:16
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    OP has about 700 RLXs in his post (and title!) and I read them all as RSX. God damnit I haven't played a car racing video game since 2004. – user1717828 Sep 23 '15 at 1:18
  • Doesn't matter that it ends in 'X'? Is it "there are multiple Alexes in this room" or "there are multiple Alexs" in this room"? The latter really doesn't feel right. Also do you have a source? – Brett Gmoser Sep 23 '15 at 1:23
  • And is "RSXes" also correct? – Brett Gmoser Sep 23 '15 at 1:27

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