Sorry if the question is confusing. Didn't know how to phrase it 100% right. Basically, I wanna write in my novel something like:

He had a thick accent on his Hs.

How do I write that? That the character has a thick accent on the letter H. Should I write 'H's, 'Hs', Hs, Hs, or something different? And please don't change the format of the sentence, nor turn the "H" into singular.

  • Thanks :D! That answers my questions! Is there a way to link the answer on that post to this question here, or do I delete my questions, or what do you think I should do? Feb 26, 2018 at 16:47
  • The end of Danny, The Champion Of The World by Roald Dahl has a character, Sargent Enoch Samways, who does something very funny related to H sounds and Dahl describes it in the text and also changed the spelling of Samways' dialog to reflect it. I don't have it handy for quoting but you might check it out. It is a delightful character trait for an otherwise gruff-seeming constable. Feb 26, 2018 at 17:53

5 Answers 5


Let's find out.

The Chicago Manual of Style, section 7.15, says this:

Capital letters used as words... usually form the plural by adding s. To aid comprehension, lowercase letters form the plural with an apostrophe and an s (compare “two as in llama” with “two a’s in llama”).

And it give the following example:

the three Rs

So, if you must write your sentence like that, use "Hs."


I prefer Hs or Hs. Straightforward and not excessive. You do not use an apostrophe to make a plural.

I have seen people try to write out the letter, like "aitches," but that's hard for me to read.

  • @AN only my stubbornness. ;) Chicago and AP permit it; I think it looks awful.
    – Lauren Ipsum
    Feb 26, 2018 at 20:31
  • Ready Player One did that and I didn't realize until like the last chapter the name "Aitch" was supposed to be "H" Feb 26, 2018 at 20:51
  • Chicago allows an apostrophe when it's necessary for clarity. For example, the plural of "i" would be "i's" rather than "is." Feb 26, 2018 at 21:27
  • 1
    If someone wrote the word "aitches" I would be thrown for a loop. I'd think the writer typoed itches and the editor let it through.
    – corsiKa
    Feb 26, 2018 at 23:03

Alternative path: instead of saying which letters were accented, give an example of a word which is altered.

He had a thick accent, making his "house" into an "'ouse".

This only works when the accented sound can be represented in English text, of course (so no Germanic "ch" sounds).

  • The sound can't be represented in English. The "H" is pronounced kinda like you're trying to spit slime from out of your throat after a good cough. Feb 26, 2018 at 16:34
  • 6
    @KlaraRaškaj: that might be a better thing to write - saying someone had a "thick accent" on one letter doesn't really convey an idea of what sort of accent; it's too vague to give an impression of how the character sounds. Whereas what you've written there is almost too clear :-)
    – psmears
    Feb 26, 2018 at 17:06

I would write on his 'H's. Single quotes around the letter.


My reason is a matter of opinion, not grammar, I think this would make it the most likely to be read correctly, because the 'H' in single quotes would be read separately as a letter and no automatic attempt by the reader would be made to combine it with the 's', or misread that as a typo repetition of the word 'his', etc.

I understand this is contrary to the Chicago Manual of style, as an author of novels more interested in clarity of speech than grammatical correctness, I would still write it this way.

  • Single quotes are used in British English; double quotes are used in American English.
    – Lauren Ipsum
    Feb 26, 2018 at 19:05

How about "on his H sounds" ?

Technically speaking his accent doesn't appear in combinations like -gh or -ch. It might be better to illustrate it with an example 'happy, with a guttural H' or whatever.

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