modern business english
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modern business english


Tamara A.Susetyo-Salim

Manjemen Informasi & Dokumentasi



plural of compound nouns

A compound nounconsists of two or more words used together as one name. Compound nouns are formed in several ways; for example:


  • airport cash register
  • bookcase clock-watcher
  • hallway stock exchange
  • half-truth real estate
  • shorthand special delivery
  • highway freeway


  • attorney-at-law board of directors
  • editor in chief jack-of-all-trades
  • sister-in-law point of view
  • write-up layoff
  • get-together takeover
  • output trade-in
Note that there is no consistent pattern for writing compound nouns. Some are written without a space or a hyphen between the words; others are written with a space between the words; and still others are written with a hyphen between the words. When in doubt as to how to write a particular compound noun, consult an up-to-date dictionary and note the part-of-speech label for the particular entry. As illus­trated below, a compound may be written one way as a noun and another way as a verb. For example:
  • NOUN : double check markup write-off
  • VERB : double-check mark up write off
1. Compound Nouns Written as One Word. To form the plural of most compound nouns written as one word, change the last element of the compound to its plural form by following the rules presented in Unit 1. Remember that the last element may be an ir­regular noun.

Payday sandwich takeover grandchild

Paydays sandwiches takeovers grandchildren

Compound Nouns Written With Spaces or Hyphens. If a compound noun consists of two nouns written with a space between them, pluralize the second noun.

Carbon copy money order car wash coffee break

Carbon copies money orders car washes coffee breaks

If the compound noun consists of a noun plus an­other part of speech or a phrase, change the main el­ement to its plural form. Note that some compound nouns of this type are written with spaces and some are written with hyphens.

Account payable letter of credit sister-in-law

Accounts payable letters of credit sisters-in-law

To form the plural of a compound noun that does not contain a noun element, change the last element to its plural form.

get-together hang up write-off drive-in

get-togethers hang-ups write-offs drive-ins

As illustrated below, some compound nouns have more than one acceptable plural form.

attorney general court-martial

attorneys general courts-martial

OR attorney generals ALSO court-martial

write the plural of each compound noun below in the space provided
Spot Check 1Write the plural of each compound noun below in the space provided.

1. footnote 1._______________________

2. credit card 2. _______________________

3. Counteroffer 3. _______________________

4. brother-in-law 4. _______________________

5. Wristwatch 5. _______________________

6. board foot6 6. _______________________

7. aftershock 7. _______________________

8. cross-reference 8. _______________________

9. account receivable 9. _______________________

10. mainstay 10. _______________________

printout 11._____________________
  • thunderstorm 12._____________________
  • mix-up 13._____________________
  • coffee break 14. _____________________
  • bookshelf 15. _____________________
  • letter of credit 16. _____________________
  • money-maker 17. _____________________
  • side effect 18. _____________________
  • sideline 19. _____________________
  • lead-in 20. _____________________
  • standby 21. _____________________
  • tax shelter 22. _____________________
  • team player 23. _____________________
  • editor in chief 24. _____________________
  • half-truth 25. _____________________
plural of abbreviations numbs hobs symbols and others words

3. Most Abbreviations. For most abbreviations, form the plural by adding s to the singular abbrevia­tion.

apt. dept. mo. yr. hwy. pkg. mgr. No.

apts. depts. mos. yrs. hwys. pkgs. mgrs. Nos.

4. Abbreviations Ending With a Capital Letter. Preferably, form the plural of an abbreviation that consists of capital letters or that ends with a capital letter by adding only an 5 to the singular abbreviation. Note that many abbreviations consisting entirely of capital letters are commonly written without periods.



5. Abbreviations Ending With an Uncapitalized Letter. To form the plural of an abbreviation that consists of uncapitalized letters followed by periods or that ends with an uncapitalized letter followed by a period, add an apostrophe and s to the singular abbreviation.

c.o.d. f.o.b. M.Ed.

c.o.d.’s (BUT : CODs) f.o.b.’s M.Ed.’s

Letters, Numbers, and Symbols. Form the plu­rals of uncapitalized letters by adding an apostrophe and s, but add only an s to form the plurals of most capital letters.

Cross t’s dot I’s u’s or v’s

A few Cs some Ds Ps and Qs

For the sake of clarity, use an apostrophe and s to form the plural of each of the following capital letters:
  • A's (to avoid confusion with the word As)
  • I's (to avoid confusion with the word Is)
  • M's (to avoid confusion with the abbreviation Ms.)
  • U's (to avoid confusion with the word Us)
Also, for the sake of consistency of style within a letter or other document, express the plurals of capital letters in the same manner.

Some students' report cards contain nothing but A's and B's. (not: Some students' report cards contain nothing but A's and Bs.)

For symbols and for numbers written in figures, add only an s to form the plural.

&s #s 5s 20s 1900s

Following the rules for other nouns, add s or es to form the plurals of numbers written in words.

fives sixes twenties nineteen hundreds

7. Words Referred to as Words. In most instances, form the plural of a word referred to as a word by adding s or es.

Ifs, ands, or buts yeses and noes

ins and outs whys and wherefores

However, use an apostrophe and 5 if the plural form is unfamiliar or is likely to be misread.

or s or nors that's and which's

If a word already contains an apostrophe, add only an .v to form the plural.

can'ts don'ts haven'ts shouldn'ts

Units of Weight and Measure. For an abbrevia­tion of a metric unit of weight or measure, use the same form for the singular and the plural. Also note that abbreviations of metric terms are always written without periods.
  • m (meter or meters) 1 m 3m
  • L (liter or liters) 1 L 5 L
  • g (gram or grams) 1 g 7 g
  • km (kilometer or kilometers) 1 km 2 km
  • kg (kilogram or kilograms) 1 kg 6 kg
  • cm (centimeter on centimeters) 1 cm 4 cm
  • dam (dekameter or dekameters) 1 dam 8 dam
The abbreviations of many customary terms of weight and measure are also the same for singular and plural, and the trend is to write them without periods.

ft (foot or feet) 1 ft 6 ft

in (inch or inches) 1 in 3 in

oz (ounce or ounces) 1 oz 12 oz

Other customary units have two widely used plural forms, but the trend is to use the form without the s. Also note the trend toward omitting periods.

lb OR lbs 7 lb OR 7 lbs

qt OR qts 4 qt OR 4 qts

yd OR yds 3 yd OR 3 yds

Single-Letter Abbreviations. For a few single-letter abbreviations, form the plural by doubling the letter that represents the singular.

p. (page) p. 25

pp. (pages) pp. 25-30

f (and the following page) pp. 18 f.

ff, (and the following pages) pp. 12 ff.

10. Nouns With Numbers. When accompanied by numbers, certain nouns use the same form for singular and plural. These terms include hundred, thousand, dozen, and gross.

five hundred 16 dozen one million

four score 12 gross one dozen

three thousand $10 million one hundred

Although abbreviations are frequently used in technical writing, tabulations, and business forms, most terms are written in full in letters, memos, and other documents. Such abbreviations as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Jr., c.o.d., a.m., and FBI are customarily abbreviated in all types of communications.

spot check 2 write the plural of each of the following items in the space provided
Spot Check 2Write the plural of each of the following items in the space provided.
  • Fig. (figure) 1. ________________
  • YWCA 2. ________________
  • 3. col. (column) 3. ________________
  • Ed. D. 4. ________________
  • cm (centimeter) 5. ________________
  • 10 6. ________________
  • yd (yard) 7. ________________
  • won't 8. ________________
  • km (kilometer) 9. ________________
  • I (the letter) 10. ________________
11. I (line) 11._________________

12. v. (verse) 12. _________________

13. one million 13. _________________

14. yes 14. _________________

15. A and B 15. _________________

16. p. (page) 16. _________________

17. L (the letter) 17. _________________

18. Form 1040 18. _________________

19. RN (Registered Nurse) 19. _________________

20. bbl (barrel) 20. _________________

21. u (the letter) 21. _________________

22. in (inch) 22. _________________

23. five 23 23. _________________

24. no 24 24. _________________

25. why 25 25. _________________

plurals of proper nouns

11. Proper Nouns Ending in cb, sb, s, x, or z. If a proper noun ends in cb, sb, s, x, or z, form the plu­ral by adding es to the singular noun.

Lynch Wals Willis Max Hertz

Lynches Walshes Willises Maxes Hertzes

Exceptions: If a proper noun ending in cb is pro­nounced as though the cb were a k, add only an s; for example, the plural of Dietrich is Dietrichs.

Also, note that a proper noun such as French or Dutch is plural when it refers to the people of a country. However, if it is the name of a person, form the plural by adding es: Frenches or Dutches, for ex­ample.

For the following names, change the y to i and add es if the word Mountains is omitted:

Rocky Mountains Smoky Mountains Allegheny Mountains

the Rockies the Smokies the Alleghenies

12. Other Proper Nouns. For most other proper nouns, form the plural by adding s to the singular noun.

Barbara German Dakota Kelly Riley

Barbaras Germans Dakotas Kellys Rileys

Courtesy and Other Titles With Names of Persons. Titles are most frequently used in the sin­gular form. However, when a title precedes a per­sonal name, the formal style is to pluralize the title; the informal style is to pluralize the name.
14. Titles in Addresses. Plurals of titles in ad­dresses are used as follows:

Mesdames or Mmes., the plural of Mrs., is used fre­quently in listing the names of married women with different surnames: Mesdames (or Mmes.) Barnes, Carlson, and Davis. Mrs. is more often used when married women have the same surname: the Mrs. Ed-sons.

Either Mses. or Mss. may be used as the plural of Ms. This title, in either its singular or its plural form, may be used with names of women, regardless of their marital status. However, if a married woman uses her husband's first name or initials instead of her own, the title Mrs. should be used (for example, Mrs. David Suarez, not Ms. David Suarez).

Misses, the plural of Miss, is not an abbreviation and therefore is not followed by a period.

Messrs., the plural of Mr., is the abbreviation of Messieurs and is followed by a period. This title is correctly used in addressing a professional partner­ship composed entirely of men (for example, Messrs. James Hubbard and Robert Shannon, Attorneys-at-Law). However, if a company or corporate name in­cludes the names of persons, do not use Messrs, be­fore the personal names.

INCOREECT : Messrs. Boyd and Warren, Inc.

Messrs. R. K. Lloyd & Co.

CORRECT : Boyd and Warren, Inc.

R. K. Lloyd & Co.

Avoid the plural forms of titles in addresses that involve the names of several people; however, plural forms may be necessary in certain cases. For exam­ple, rather than write Messrs. J. R. Collins and W. L. McCormick as the first line of the address, write the name of each person on a separate line and use the appropriate courtesy title before each name.

Mr. J. R. Collins

Mr. W. L McCormick

90 West Waters Avenue

Tampa, R 33615

In the spaces provided, write the plurals of the following nouns.
  • Carolina 1._________________
  • Koch 2. _________________
  • Riley 3. _________________
  • Miss Davis (formal) 4. _________________
  • Murdoch 5. _________________
  • French (family name) 6. _________________
  • Japanese 7. _________________
  • Ms. Mallory (informal) 8. _________________
  • Mrs. 9. _________________
  • Mr 10. _________________
Ms. 11. _______________
  • Welch 12. _______________
  • Wirtz 13. _______________
  • Bendix 14. _______________
  • Foley 15. _______________
  • Standish 16. _______________
  • Dr. 17. _______________
  • Miss West (informal) 18. _______________
  • Mr. Perez (formal) 19. _______________
  • Mrs. Jones (informal) 20. _______________
spot check 2
Spot Check 2

A. The following sentences show applications of die rules for forming plurals of com­pound nouns. As you read each sentence, give particular attention to the italicized nouns. The numbers following them refer to the rules presented in this unit.

1. The regional managers²are working on their sales budgets².

2. Sky marshals² have been assigned to prevent sky-jackings¹.

3. Those flashlights¹will be needed in case of blackouts¹.

4. My brothers-in-law² are enrolled in different junior colleges².

5. Some drugstores¹ sell everything from tooth­brushes1 to lawn chairs².

6. Do book clubs²offer publications at lower prices than bookstores?¹

7. Both their daughters-in-law²and their grand­children^ spent the day at an amusement park.

Economic slowdowns¹may result in temporary layoffs¹of workers in government, business, and industry.
  • The sales representatives² gave new price lists² to customers.
  • Most stockbrokers¹paid no attention to the ru­mors concerning possible takeovers¹of compa­nies by corporate raiders².
  • One of the stagehands¹has written several short stories².
  • The teenagers* were given an opportunity to ex­press their points of view¹.
  • Directors of marketing* may request field tests² of products.
  • I bought two stepladders¹ and some paint-brushes¹ at neighborhood garage sales² last week.
  • During recent news conferences², spokespersons¹for the companies denounced unidentified rumormongers¹.
  • They deposited their paychecks¹in their check­ing accounts²and rented safe-deposit boxes².
  • What do you think of the life-styles²of those officeholders¹?
  • Both lieutenant governors²claimed they had paid their income taxes²on time.
  • We saw several grand pianos²in their show-rooms
  • These guidelines¹were developed for freelancers².
The following sentences illustrate rules for forming the plurals of abbreviations, let­ters, numbers, symbols, words referred to as words, and proper nouns. The numbers fol­lowing the italicized terms refer to rules given in this unit.
  • Only one of the Mses. Cason¹* works in the personnel department.
  • I wonder what the following items will cost a de­cade from now:

5 lb potatoes8.

1 L gasoline8.

2 pkgs. of chewing gum3.

  • Please see the organization chart on pp. 8-109.
  • The word withhold contains two b's6.
  • This handwritten draft contains too many how-evers7 and some 7s6 that could be misread as 4s or 9s6.
  • As a graduate student, she received nothing but A's and B's6.
  • Over 10 million10 people live and work in the metropolitan area.
assignment complete the unit 2 worksheet on pages 15 16
ASSIGNMENT : Complete the Unit 2 Worksheet on pages 15 – 16.
  • How many Blisses11 and Wirtzes11 do you know?
  • Several Germans12 visited the Frenches11, McClintocbs11, and Murphys12 a week or so ago.
  • The article is of special interest to CPAs4.
  • We handle many c.o.d.'s5 every day.
  • The address on the envelope was as follows:
  • Messrs.14 Edgar Martinez and L. C. Sheahan, Attorneys-at-Law.
  • Charles and Barbara are among the RNs4 at Me­morial Hospital.
  • This carton contains two dozen10 eggs.
  • The register contains several tens6 and a few twenties6.
  • These instructions contain a great many don’ts7.
  • Note the rules on pp. 20 ff9.
  • The Helmses11 stayed at a resort in the Rockies11.
  • We counted four yeses7 and six noes7.
  • Those VCRs4 were manufactured during the 1980s6.