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> What's the plural of "Charles" as in the sentence, "I went to a party last
> night and there were seven Charless (or Charleses or Charles's) there"?
> The first isn't "correct" and it doesn't look right. The second is
> "correct" but it doesn't look right, either. The third isn't "correct"
> but it's close to correct and it looks subjectively better to some people
> than the second.
The good old Chicago Manual of Style (really old, in my case, since I'm
still on the 13th edition), says:
_Proper names._ Names of persons and other capitalized names
form the plural in the usual way, by adding _s_ or _es_:
five Toms, four Dicks, and three Harrys
the Pericleses of modern times
keeping up with the Joneses
six Hail Marys
two cold Januarys
Just because it doesn't "look right" is no excuse -- it took me years to
get "accommodate" (two c's, two m's) to "look right" to me, and I still
have to look up "embarrassment" so as not to commit one. One of the more
loathsome aspects of modern journalism is the apparent inability of
reporters to follow this rule, so that Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes, celebrating
their golden anniversary, are referred to not as "the Wilkeses" but as
"the Wilkes" or (even worse) "the Wilke's."
Just another voice crying in the wilderness, of course.
mnj -at- ornl -dot- gov
DISCLAIMER: I work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for Lockheed Martin Energy
Systems, which is under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy -- but I
don't speak for any of them, and they return the favor.