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It didn't take long

First day back on the job in the new year, first e-mail dispatch of the day, ominously headed “Go back to school.”

“Come On...your headline ‘Bushes Pay Respect to Ford’ refers to shrubs, not people!!  (Though I think the Sun probably would argue differently about the President).  Try ‘The Bushs.’”

Well, no. Making names such as Bush plural by adding es is standard English. This can be found in, among other sources, The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage.

I suspect that the writer may be generalizing from the example of Kennedy being made plural as Kennedys. The principle is that whether s or es is used to form the plural, the name itself, the root word, remains unchanged. Otherwise, es is used with names, as with other nouns, that end in ch, j, s, sh, x or z.

The new year has started, and school's in session.

Posted by John McIntyre at 10:32 AM | | Comments (1)


But AP agrees with the tackless reader: Bushs.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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