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The phrase was "How many Ark Royals have there been in The Royal Navy".

There have been 5 ships of the name Ark Royal

My question however is. is "Ark Royals" the correct plural form?

Should it instead be "How many Arks Royal have there been in The Royal Navy?" or is that all moot and I should be asking "How many HMSs Ark Royal have there been in The Royal Navy?"

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  • We italicize ship names. But we wouldn't include the plural s in the italicization: Ark Royals Mar 3 at 14:38
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    Even crème brûlées has been standardised in English. (I believe it's an option in French also, along with crèmes brûlées.) There's a corresponding thread addressing 'to He who must not be Named' (not 'Him'): it's usually best to see such multiword proper nouns as single lexemes. Mar 3 at 15:40

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Ark Royal is a name. Similar questions would be "How many Jasens are there in the world?" "How many Alexei Briggses are there?"

Ark Royal is not a title or an office like Postmaster General or Attorney General. Where a title like that has a postpositive adjective, then yes, pluralise the main noun: Postmasters General, Attorneys General. Even there, "Attorney Generals" is attested — eg Britannica.

But for a name, just pluralise. If it sounds awkward, you can always reword it, although I would suggest that HMSs is just as bad. "How many ships called HMS Ark Royal have there been in the Royal Navy?"

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  • There's an older question about attorneys general or attorney generals. There's definitely a tendency to put the S at the end of many multi-word nouns but e.g. the Guardian still requires attorneys general.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 3 at 13:04
  • I prefer "How many Royal Navy ships have been named Ark Royal?" Mar 3 at 22:11

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