Tag Archive | plural


Snowflake the elf is in charge of monitoring weather conditions worldwide in order to help Santa plan his path of travel. Since this is a monumental job, he has a whole team of elves working with him, each specializing in the weather of a different geographic region.

The meteorologist elves get very excited when meteorological terms become widely used in common parlance. A few years ago, they were positively gleeful (but aren’t they always?) when the polar vortex overtook much of the United States, garnering so much attention on the news and in everyday conversation.

Snowflake and his team are so careful in their observation that they noted long before other meteorologists that more than one polar vortex was sweeping down across the northern United States this month. As they began to analyze this weather pattern, though, they ran into a problem—a linguistic one! You see, the elves weren’t sure of the plural of vortex. Vortexes? It just doesn’t sound right.

This morning, Snowflake got over his embarrassment about not knowing how to pluralize vortex and asked me how his team should express the plural of vortex. Not knowing how was causing them a great deal of confusion! I let them know that the plural is vortices. Vortex is from Latin, and it is a variant of vertex. While both vertices and vertexes are acceptable plurals of vertex, the Oxford English Dictionary reveals that vortices is the only way to pluralize vortex at this time.

Although I love learning about weather phenomena, meteorology is not my area of expertise. Still, I was able to help Snowflake and his team carry out their duties. Now that they know that the plural of vortex is vortices, they can communicate confidently about as many vortices as they wish! This might prove to be very important to the safety of Santa, the reindeer, and the entire delivery team on Christmas Eve.

When I was eight years old, I hoped to be a meteorologist when I grew up. Today’s work might be the closest I’ll get!

Me, pummeled by 2 polar vortices

Me, pummeled by 2 polar vortices




Pluralization Primer: The Christmas Card Edition

It’s Black Friday: You might waiting on a horribly long line. Alternatively, you might be taking a break from writing out your Christmas cards. If the latter, please do yourself and all of your card recipients a favor and read this witty and insightful post by Kate Brannen about pluralizing last names. Don’t let your enthusiasm for spreading holiday cheer get in the way of correct pluralization!


christmas cards on a string

What’s the name of tomorrow’s holiday?

presidents day silhouettes

Presidents Day, President’s Day, Presidents’ Day—what difference does it make, as long as we get the day off, or at least get some good bargains at P-Day sales?

The difference is that these three seemingly slight variations would mean very different things!

“Presidents Day,” well, just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Since “Presidents” is a plain old plural noun, combining it with “Day” creates a phrase that basically means nothing. “Presidents” and “Day,” ok—but what does the combination mean? Is there any relationship between these two words?

“President’s Day” is a little bit better. Since “President’s” includes an apostrophe, possession is indicated. But “President’s” is possessive singular, meaning “of the President.” The question remains: which president? Of course, the holiday initially commemorated George Washington’s birthday, but now its meaning is broader. So the day of just one president will not do.

Our final choice, “Presidents’ Day,” is the winner! According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the name of the holiday refers officially to Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and unofficially, in our observance, to all United States presidents. So the possessive plural “Presidents’”, which indicates that this is a day of more than one president, is right on the money: $1, $5, or whatever you save at your favorite Presidents’ Day sale!