When writing, e.g., a syllabus, which one is more appropriate?

Four tardiness equal one absence.

Four tardies equal one absence.

This question relates to this, but it is not conclusive, and I am asking a related question.

I googled and found both usages are common. If both are ok, it is fine, but I am confused.

1 Answer 1


Tardy is the term you are looking for but as explained in this extract from M-W, tardy as a noun is rare and its plural is tardies:

Make sure that you are using tardy as a noun, because this is rare; tardy is almost always used as an adjective meaning “late.". And as an adjective, tardy has no plural form, because adjectives in English stay the same regardless of whether the noun they modify is singular or plural. In the three examples below, tardy is an adjective.

  • Jennifer was tardy for work almost every day. (tardy is an adjective modifying the singular noun, Jennifer)

  • The accountant was tardy in filing their taxes. (tardy is an adjective modifying the singular noun, accountant)

  • The tardy bells ring twice during the school day. (tardy is an adjective modifying the plural noun bells)

In those rare instances when tardy is used as a noun, it means “an instance of being tardy,” as in the example below.

  • The professor told the class that only one absence and one tardy was allowed per semester.

Tardiness is a mass noun meaning:

The quality or fact of being late; lateness.

  • ‘forgive my tardiness, I had some very important business to attend to’

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