I came across an article the other day which made me think about what is the plural of no and yes and when and how you should use them.
The article used the word “no’s” as the plural of ‘no’. I winced a little and did some old man muttering about standards of education as this is wrong, you don’t use an apostrophe to make a word plural.
The Plural of No is Noes or Nos
– The noes have it (you hear this phrase a lot in government voting etc.)
– In the recent vote there were 20 noes
– There were lots of noes and very few yeses
I personally always spell it Noes. That’s because Nos can also be an abbreviation used for the word Numbers, so could cause confusion.
The Plural of Yes is Yeses or Yesses
– There were 10 yeses and 5 noes
– The yeses have it
– How many yeses will I have to get to win the vote
Again, Yeses or Yesses are both correct spellings according to Merriam Webster. I always use Yeses but that is just my personal preference.
When do you use Yeses or Noes
As you can see from my examples above, I’m struggling to think of when I would use the plural of no or yes outside the context of voting. There probably are some valid scenarios so if you can think of any please share your wisdom with others in the comments below.
Using an Apostrophe to Make a Word Plural
Whilst you should never, usually, use an apostrophe to make a word plural, there is one exception to be aware of and that is when you want to make a lowercase letter plural e.g. ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s‘ or a single number e.g. ‘How many 6’s are there in 666‘.
The Grocer’s Apostrophe
If you’ve been using an apostrophe to make words plural then don’t beat yourself up, it’s a very common mistake that actually has a name called the ‘Grocer’s Apostrophe‘. The phrase stems from how frequently the mistake was seen on hand written shop signs e.g. ‘Get your fresh apple’s here’