In a previous question here What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question) someone asked what the plural of a letter is. The answer given was for uppercase letters use a lower case S with no apostrophe, but for lower case letters use an apostrophe for clarification.

What about when using the letter S? In either case, having Ss or s's looks odd. Would the plural be Ses or S's?

And when using uppercase letters that can become a word, such as Is and As, is no apostrophe okay or should an apostrophe be added for clarification?

This may be marked as duplicate for Plural of an initialism that ends with the letter S or similar questions concerning acronyms ending in S, but I believe this is different because I am asking about the letter itself, not an acronym.

  • What is your context? – Lambie Apr 27 '16 at 21:13
  • @Lambie For use in fiction writing. For example, a character that pronounces the letter S as a different letter. Also, for future reference. – akrs20 Apr 27 '16 at 21:19
  • 1
    In Shaw's 'The Dark Lady of the Sonnets' Queen Elizabeth I characterizes the phrase "season your admiration for a space" as "a very vile jingle of esses". – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 27 '16 at 21:28
  • The second answer to the first question you linked to says an apostrophe can be used "to form the plural of letters" without any restrictions on case. – herisson Apr 27 '16 at 21:30

I would use S's.

I want to spell apostrophes but I have no S's.

| improve this answer | |

according the the Merriam-Webster dictionary there are two ways to write the plural for ´s´: 1. s's 2. ss

| improve this answer | |
  • This is one of those American (S's) versus British/Commonwealth (Ses) things. I once had a long argument with a teacher from New Zealand over this. She refused to accept this sole exceptional case for apostrophes in plurals as anything but a barbarism, even when I showed her sources. – Spencer Apr 28 '16 at 0:08

You can avoid the confusion by pluralizing the name of the letter, ess, into esses.

She spent the afternoon ignoring the professor and drawing idly in her notebook, languidly doodling esses and then turning them into dragons.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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