Plural Options

Don't use a solidus (also known as the slash or virgule) followed by an s (/s) or a parenthetical (s) to cover two options. It's better to write out the choice, choose one option yourself, or rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem.

If you know who the owner is, give it back to him or her. [not him/her]
Send me __________ tickets. [not ticket(s) or ticket/s]

Some students still haven't declared a major by their junior year.
Not every student has decided what s/he wants to major in by his/her junior year.


Here are some words whose singular or plural forms can be troublesome:

Singular Plural Reference
agenda agendas  
alumnus alumni men or men and women
alumna alumnae women
basis bases  
colloquium colloquia or colloquiums  
criterion criteria  
curriculum curricula  
datum data  
editor in chief editors in chief  
ellipsis ellipses  
emeritus emeriti men or men and women
emerita emeritae women
emeritus professor emeritus professors men or men and women
faculty faculties  
faculty member faculty members  
freshman freshmen men or men and women
freshman class freshman classes classes for freshmen (not freshmen classes)
person people (not persons)  
phenomenon phenomena  
practicum practicums  
professor emeritus professors emeriti  
staff staffs  
staff member
staff members
woman athlete women athletes  

Collective Nouns

When using the following nouns, be aware of whether you're referring to the word as a single unit (singular) or as individual items (plural).

The faculty recommends adding a course requirement.
The committee meets every Thursday.
Three inches is the recommended margin.
Sixteen dollars and four cents is the total.


The faculty members disagree.
The committee members express differing views.
Inches are shorter than feet.
Sixteen dollar bills and four pennies are in the jar.

Percent and Percentage

Percent is singular if used alone or if a singular word is the object of of. Percent is plural if a plural word is the object of of. Percentage is always singular.

Exactly 80 percent is required.
Nearly 80 percent of the money was spent.
More than 40 percent of the courses are at the graduate level.
A percentage of the profits is all I want.

See also Percent under Numbers.

School Spirit

When referring to the various student sports teams on campus, the correct terms to use are the Oregon Ducks or the Ducks. When using the team name as an adjective, use Ducks, not Duck.

Ducks fans (i.e., fans of the Ducks) crowded the stands in Autzen Stadium.

One UO attendee, alumnus, or alumna is considered a Duck, but one is not a "Duck fan" any more than a follower of the Chicago Bears is a Bear fan. The only exception is in the official name of an organization, such as the Duck Athletic Fund.

The proper name of the mascot for the University of Oregon athletics teams is the Oregon Duck or the Duck. It should never be referred to as Puddles, although some media outlets still use this outdated name. See also The Duck in this guide.