Re: Optional plural(s)?

Subject: Re: Optional plural(s)?
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 21 May 2014 14:18:23 -0400

On Wed, 21 May 2014 13:11:45 -0400, Jim Witkin <jameswitkin -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

Does anyone still use what I'm calling "optional plural" forms of nouns or
is this old hat. I'm writing about a server used in telecom networks that
can have one or more fans to cool the unit. The number of fans is
determined by the operating environment. I find myself writing something
like, "install the fan(s) etc, etc." Is this still considered correct
usage to indicate "one or more"? If so, should the verb take a singular or
plural form? "The fan(s) cools the unit." or "The fan(s) cool the unit."


I regard (s) as silly, and create plain English that expresses the thought without messing up the forms of verbs.

"The fans cool the unit. Small systems may require only one fan."

It's the same principle (sidestepping) as finding the plural of mongoose. "Please send me a mongoose. While you are at it, please send me two more."
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References:
Optional plural(s)?: From: Jim Witkin

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