acronym plural

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by f.r.a.n., Mar 31, 2008.

  1. f.r.a.n. Member

    If I want to write the plural of an acronym (say STM for Standard Test Method), am I right to write STM's or STMs ?

    Please help me ASAP!
  2. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    It's logical to write STMs without the apostrophe and I advise you to do that, but many people would write STM's. I don't know why...
  3. pamsam New Member

    I learned in my grammar class, when they taught grammar, that STM's was correct. That's why!
  4. ajo fresco

    ajo fresco Senior Member

    The plural of an acronym is formed by adding "s" -- using the apostrophe makes it possessive, not plural.

    It's a common mistake. So common, apparently, that even some teachers make it! :(
  5. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    This mistake is also made with years and ages:
    I'm in my late 50s (correct)
    I grew up in the 1960s (correct)
    50's and 1960's are wrong.

    Here's a case where an apostrophe, though illogical, might be justified:
    There are two e's in the word "element".
    It would be more correct to write
    There are two "e"s ..., but it's understandable that people want to simplify.
  6. ajo fresco

    ajo fresco Senior Member

    You're right. I forgot to mention that the only time one would use an apostrophe is to form the plural of a single letter.
    For example: There are three e's in the word element. ;)
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    A few weeks ago I was on a (seemingly respected) grammar website that said for such short acronyms it was acceptable (I wasn't 100% on the official rule after having seen and used both versions all my life)..

    That's what I thought anyway, that it was ok for short acronyms like CD('s), I'll try and find the link, it's a confusing issue for natives as well! :)
  8. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    OK, so I can't count!:D
  9. xmas50 Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    In the 30s = Negli anni 30
    30's vintage dress = Vestito degli anni 30

    This is what I learned in my grammar school. Then I saw so many examples of 30's, 50's, CD's used as plural that I didn't know anymore, so I asked "qualified" teachers and all of them told me that, grammatically speaking, is wrong, that it should be 30s, 50s, CDs. Unfortunately, the use of 's to make a plural is so widespread nowadays that nobody knows anymore :confused:
  10. ajo fresco

    ajo fresco Senior Member

    It is a very widespread mistake, but your teachers are correct.
    It's 30s, 50s, etc., if you're talking about someone's age:
    "I got married when I was in my 30s."

    The apostrophe goes at the beginning if you're abbreviating a decade:
    1970s = '70s

    So, you can say: I bought a lot of CDs in the '80s, when I was in my 20s. :)
  11. xmas50 Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Great explanation!

    Thank you :)
  12. roboruler New Member

    An apostrophe is mainly used two ways:

    As a posessive:
    • "That book belongs to Shirley." or "It is Shirley's.", where the " 's " is used to express the noun as a posessive.

    As an abbreviator:
    • "Please do not do that." or "Please don't do that.", where the apostrophe represents the space where letters have removed to join and simplify two words "do" and "not".
    • "The 1970s were a lot of fun." or "We had a lot of fun in the '70s.", where the apostrophy represents a part of the word that was removed to simplify it.)

    To make a noun plural, the apostrophe is not used. So, you simply write ABCs and 123s when writing acronyms. The important thing to remember is to capitalize the letters which represent the words of your acronym. Acronyms seem to increase in popularity as we strive to simplify and achieve more with less. So, it's (it_is) easily thought that an apostrophy may be required, simply because you're (you_are) expressing a shortened version of a full length word or set of words.

    Be careful when using the word "it":
    • When expressing "it" as a posessive pronoun, you would write "its" with no apostrophe. This one gets many people.
    • When expressing "it is", you would then write "it's" using the apostrophy to indicate the two words "it" and "is".
    • When expressing "it" as a plural, simply write "its", as the apostrophy is not used to express a plural.

    Hope this helps!!

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