27

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).

9
  • 6
    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. Dec 7 '11 at 0:46
  • 1
    There are no rules for these things and I am no better placed to devise a method than you are!
    – WS2
    May 24 '14 at 7:14
  • It is possible that there is no convention in this case. Perhaps: Will the responsible party/parties please come forward. May 24 '14 at 7:33
  • 1
    @medica That is exactly how I would write it. Depending on the context, either party/parties or party (parties). Similarly, man/men or man (men). May 24 '14 at 7:40
  • @tchrist I would not approve of the 'accepted answer' on that post. Party(ies) is fine and very (much more?) common.
    – Kris
    May 24 '14 at 12:47
14

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

party/parties

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

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  • 1
    If you're writing something that you may be judged on (whether for a grade, or for business in terms of your competence, or simply by other grammar Nazis that you want to impress) then I would go with this. But I think this is hardly more concise than fully writing out " or " instead of using a slash. For 99% of the writing I do, I would just go with the parenthetical (ies).
    – BVernon
    Mar 16 '16 at 2:35
  • "Would be preferred" by whom, exactly? Not by me.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 10 '20 at 9:36
  • For short words (under three syllables / ten letters or so) like this, listing both number possibilities looks as good or better than the 'short-hand' approach, since the relative space savings for the alternative is smaller than with longer nouns.
    – 11qq00
    Oct 5 at 20:31
5

"Party(ies)" is certainly used in official contexts.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22party%28ies%29%22+site:.gov

3

I think the following may also be an acceptable way of dealing with an uncertain plural ending in "y":

part(y/ies)

1

A safe, formal alternative is of course to use the singular and the plural with or, e.g.

I will attend the party or parties.
-3

When we can't continue a word in brackets to show the options, we must show both(all) words.

Thus:

   I/We will attend your party

But:

  You(s) are invited to the party (ie alone or with a friend)

Thus in your case you need to write:

  Party (Parties)
1
  • 3
    You(s)? That’s eye dialect (and only works for IrE, ScE, and some dialects of AmE to boot), so hardly appropriate for any kind of even semi-formal writing. May 24 '14 at 15:26

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