The basic pluralization rules in English are already tricky enough especially for many non-native speakers of the language.
While this is already a common concern, other non-conventional linguistic representations meanwhile add insult to the injury.
One of the most confusing words to pluralize is the word “no,” which can be used as a determiner, exclamation, adverb, and noun in actual usage.
So, today’s post focuses on explaining the pluralization process of the word “no” in detail, as well as the reasons behind it.
Let’s start with a quick answer.
What is the plural of “no”?
“No” can be pluralized either as “noes,” “no’s,” or “nos,” and the writer’s decision of which variant to use depends on the writing style, consistency of usage, readability, and the grammatical conventions adhered to by the writer. Comparatively, “noes” is the most common plural form of “no.”
Defining “no” in ample detail
No one can blame these people for sure because, just like any other language out there, English is full of contradictions and mysteries.
The rise and spread of English as a global language have unquestionably improved interactions between and among nations and made unique cultures understood.
But also like any other form of development, there will always be drawbacks that need to be addressed through healthy information production and consumption.
One of these drawbacks is the concern and confusion on pluralizing words that belong in several parts of speech, such as the word “no.”
“No” is an open-class word because it can be used as a determiner, an exclamation, an adverb, and a noun in speaking and writing either in formal or casual language.
It can be used as a determiner when it means “not any” and precedes a noun in a sentence such as in the example below:
It is also possible to use “no” as an exclamatory expression to express disagreement or negation to an idea.
Meanwhile, “no” can also be used as an adverb to represent as well as to condense the meaning of “not at all” or “to no extent.”
Furthermore, “no” may also be recognized as the abbreviated form of the word “number,” which also makes matters a bit worse.
But then again, language users are always capable of improvising to make languages less ambiguous in the least.
To particularly address the inquiry on what the plural form of “no” is, the next section covers the several known variations of “no” as to how people use them in actual language application.
The several plural forms of “no” together with example sentences
There are three common variations to the plural form of “no,” namely, “noes,” “no’s,” and “nos.” But, which one should you choose in writing?
Hence, each of the variants is scrutinized and explained below for your reference and understanding:
Most reliable lexical sources such as Merriam, Collins Cobuild, Oxford recognize “noes” as the plural of “no”; hence, you can actually merit a score in your scrabble game if you use this word.
In fact, one music artist who has a decent number of views on music listening and viewing platforms also goes by the name “Noes.”
However, using “noes” as the plural form of “no” could be easy to read yet counterintuitive especially for those who are not so much into reading as well as non-native speakers of English.
In actual language usage, though, you may use “noes” in a sentence like in the example below:
Another variant plural form of “no” is the one that contains an apostrophe before the plural suffix-marker “-s” or “no’s.”
The apostrophe readily solves and improves the counterintuitive quality issue of the first variant discussed above which is “noes.”
That is to say, the apostrophe makes “no’s” as the plural form of “no” more readable or legible, visually attractive, and less confusing for readers.
However, the placement of the apostrophe may also induce the interpretation of the possessive form of “no,” especially for the non-natives.
So, it is essential to explain these linguistic nuances in pedagogical practices to improve the quality of learners’ language production.
Here’s how you may use the second variant “no’s” in a sentence:
Apostrophes used to be commonplace in pluralizing abbreviations and acronyms in the past, but modern style guides, such as the APA Manual, already suggest omitting apostrophes.
In support of plain language use and punctuation rules, the apostrophe in “no’s” may also be alternatively dropped, thereby forming “nos” in the process.
The downside to this option is the decreased readability of the word, as well as the misinterpretation it may induce.
Writing “nos” instead of “no’s” as the plural form of “no” may lead to the interpretation of the pluralized abbreviation of the word “number.”
So, even if contextualization is a powerful tool, the default decision is to always consider your target audience when writing.
Here’s an example of using “nos” in a sentence for your reference:
Deciding whether to use “noes,” “no’s,” or “nos”
In a nutshell, the decision of whether to use or leave out the apostrophe or even to use “noes” is dependent on style, consistency, readability, and grammatical convention.
Here are the four main arguments that you, as a writer, have to consider when deciding which variant to use:
Literary reasons may induce the usage of “noes” instead of “nos” and “no’s.” For instance, writing poems could prompt poets to choose this variant because of stylistic motivations.
More particularly, you might observe the usage of “noes” if and when it is the best option to make poem stanzas rhyme and visually appealing.
By gladly choosing yesses over noes
Consistency makes your writing more accurate and reliable; it also makes your text easier to read and understand.
Hence, you must always steadily choose and use a single variant throughout your text so that readers would not get derailed in the process of reading.
Considering who your target readers are and how well they would understand your thought representation is also crucial in selecting not just the plural form of “no” but also with any other textual items.
After all, the information you write would become futile or purposeless if your target readers cannot understand whatever your point is.
Finally, considering your geographical location as well as the English variation typically used in your area is also vital in choosing which plural word variant to use.
As grammatical conventions meanwhile guide language use, it is much preferable to adhere to the standards used in your context to be able to communicate with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions in “The Plural of ‘No’”
Is “no’s” a word?
“No’s” is a widely used word in English. It is one of the three alternative plural forms of the word “no.”
Is it “no nos” or “no no’s”?
“No-no” is an informal or casual expression that represents the idea that an idea is not possible nor acceptable. It is commonly pluralized with the hyphen and either with or without the apostrophe, as in “no-nos” or “no-no’s.”
What is the plural form of “yes”?
There are three possible plural forms of yes. They are “yeses,” “yesses,” and “yes’s.”
Language is inherently ambiguous, so language users simply do whatever they can depending on the situation to make languages more comprehensible.
Therefore, you must not expect all people, including natives and non-natives speakers of English, to adhere to a single option in pluralizing the word “no” in actual writing contexts.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.