Conditional Plural(s)

Subject: Conditional Plural(s)
From: Barry West <Barry_West -dot- S2K -at- S2KEXT -dot- S2K -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 1995 09:46:04 EDT

Bill Burns wrote

>we can assume that this generalization will apply to multiple [snip]
>Software Installation Plans.

I agree. In generalizations such as "These plans shall be recorded in Software
Installation Plan(s)
(SIPs)," I don't even bother with the conditional indication. I think that
sometimes by trying to be too precise in our construction, we defeat out
purpose of clarity by creating awkward constructions. I am not suggesting that
conditional plurals should never be used, but the rule of thumb should be your
best judgment (what can you assume about the situation). Afterall, isn't our
best judgment the reason we get the big bucks? :-)

>I use plurals often to eliminate repetition (when in third person), to
>gender-specific references (they instead of s/he/it), and to apply general
>information to classes of items.

I think this approach is a good way to resolve some issues of awkwardness. The
problem of substituting 'they' for 's/he' or 'he/she' is that I often end up
getting a grammar lesson from the corporate editor. :-)

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