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What Is the Plural of "iPad 2"?

By
Mignon Fogarty,
November 18, 2011

A Twitter user named Nick Piesco forwarded me the following message about making product names plural:

The Company Line: iPad 2 Tablets

Product names are always tricky because they are usually trademarked, and companies don't like you to use trademarked words generically. The Apple page Guidelines for Using Trademarks and Copyrights gives this example:

Rules for Proper Use of Apple Trademarks

1. Trademarks are adjectives used to modify nouns; the noun is the generic name of a product or service.

2. As adjectives, trademarks may not be used in the plural or possessive form.

Correct: I bought two Macintosh computers.

Not Correct: I bought two Macintoshes.

In other words, Apple wants you to say you have "two iPad 2 tablets," but we all know that's not realistic in casual writing and speech. I've addressed plurals of product names before (the plural of "Blackberry" is "Blackberrys," even though RIM wants you to call them "two Blackberry smartphones"), but I've never faced a question about a product name that ends with a version number.

Common Use: iPad 2s

Logically, I don't think adding a number to the name makes a difference in the way you'd handle it. The number is part of the official name, so if we'd write that we have two Blackberrys and two iPads, then we should write that we have two iPad 2s.

Indeed, "iPad 2s" as the plural is in circulation in big publications. For example, see these articles about a guy who used two iPad 2s to create the illusion of a hole through his body: WiredMSNTUAW, and CBS.

What Will Be the Plural of the Next Version: iPad 2Ss?

The situation gets more tricky when you realize that the next version will likely to be called the iPad 2S--the product name will have a capital s, and the plural name for the old version will have a lowercase s. They're close enough to be confusing. How would you make "iPad 2S" plural? Well, the closest situation I can think of is making initialisms that end in s plural. If you want to make the abbreviation for "operating system"--"OS"-- plural, it's "OSs." (I covered this in more detail in my e-mail newsletter a couple of years ago.) Using that as my starting point, when the iPad 2S comes out, I'll write the plural as "iPad 2Ss."

Mignon Fogarty is the author of Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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