Making “Yes” and “No” Plural

Margie Wakeman Wells The Apostrophe 13 Comments

There are a couple of ways to make yes and no plural:

…yeses and noes…
…yes’s and no’s…

I personally don’t like the look of noes because I think it looks like a misspelled word — maybe nose misspelled. So I would go with the forms that have the apostrophe.

No matter which of the forms you choose, you need to be consistent. Either make them both plural with the spelling, or make them plural with the apostrophe. Don’t mix them together.

Happy punctuating!



Comments 13

  1. Hi, Margie —

    I have in my notes that, when pluralizing a word, the word is underlined, followed by ” ‘s.” I’m not sure where I got those notes — if it was from your class or not. Not sure.

    Example: and’s (with “and” underlined — the underline won’t work in the comment box.)

    Is that also correct?
    (I finally ordered the book — student version, since I’m currently going to school and not yet working.) Thanks!

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      You are absolutely correct.

      Sorry for the late response. Quite frankly, I had totally forgotten that there could be question here. Yikes.

      Have a blessed day.


  2. Apostrophe plus S should NEVER be used for plurals. It is for possessive. People are starting to use the apostrophe plus s to create plurals – incorrectly – and it is even popping up in published works of fiction. It is wrong, wrong, wrong! The apostrophe is used for two purposes, and two purposes only. It is used to show missing letters in a contraction – like these: can’t, shouldn’t, would’ve and we’ll.
    The apostrophe is also used to show ownership. Like this:
    The neighbor’s car
    It should never be used to make a word plural!

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      1. Talk about parsing words. Margie, admit you were wrong. Okay, so tell us the uses of the apostrophe that do not have to do with plural or missing letters. IF there were, one of them is not the subject matter spoken about here. I find it difficult to believe you as a court reporter would think apostrophe S can be used to denote plural.

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          Dear Sunny,

          If you go back a few years, the correct way to pluralize abbreviations was to use an apostrophe “s.” It was also used to pluralize figures. Those rules have gone by the wayside as we have “cut down” the language.

          Sometimes we still use an apostrophe when a noun acronym is used as a verb as in “We FedEx’d it to the customer” or “He usually UPS’s it to us.”

          I would stand by these two choices for these plurals in this post. If you research the correct form for the plural of “yes” and “no,” you will find both of these forms are acceptable.

          And, for the record, I am not a court reporter. I am a credentialed teacher in the state of California. I attended court reporting school. I have taught court reporting for 40 years and have given over 300 lectures on punctuation and grammar to court reporters all over the country.

          Thank you for your feedback.


    2. You are absolutely correct. I am shocked that this page comes up second on Google when it offers incorrect information. I am an English teacher, as well as editor and writer. Thank you for correcting this person.

    3. It is okay when it is a name. It is NEVER okay to say Amoses or Joneses. The correct form for pluralizing a name that ends in an S is with an apostrophe. Period. Amos’ and Jones’. You are correct for regular words or names that do not end in an s. For the subject above yes and no, you are correct.

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        The rules for proper names are no different from the rules for a regular noun. When a proper name ends in “s,” it is made plural by adding “es.”

        …talked to the witness… (one person)
        …talked to the witness’s wife… (one person who possesses something)
        …talked to two witnesses… (two people)
        …talked to two witnesses’ families… (two people who possesses something)

        …talked to Mrs. Wells… (one person)
        …talked to Mrs. Wells’s son… (one person who possesses something)
        …talked to the Wellses… (two people)
        …talked to the Wellses’ neighbors… (two people who possess something)

        Hope this was your question.


  3. Sad to say here that Sonja is dead wrong, and I strongly disagree with Margie even though she makes the point that using apostrophes to denote plurals has been used by some people at some times in history. Grandma is absolutely correct: Even professional spaces are beginning to misuse the apostrophe, because it’s seeping in from informal, incorrect online communication, up through blogs and online articles, on to published print works, and no one bothers to correct it. Apostrophes are for possessives and contractions. These are correct forms of plural words: Yeses, noes, Joneses, Amoses, Frantzes, exes and ohs, “X”s and “O”s, etc.

    The only time it is potentially acceptable to use an apostrophe is when not doing so makes the meaning UNCLEAR or easily CONFUSED with another word, such as: “Cross your t’s and dot your i’s.” (i’s not to be confused with the word “is”) HOWEVER, in my professional opinion, there are many better workarounds that don’t cross the sacred boundary:
    Cross your Ts
    Dot your “i”s
    She got straight “A”s

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      Dear Elise,

      I agree that making “yes/no” plural is best done by adding the “es,” though I do maintain the “noes” is not instantly recognizable.

      In regard to the expression about crossing the letters, I think the apostrophe is necessary as those are lowercase letters that are internal to words in a contract, from which the expression comes.

      Have a good day.


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