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There is a card in Magic: the Gathering called Rally the Ancestors. My friends and I refer to the card by its shortened name, "Rally".

The plural form of rally when used as a regular word is rallies. Do I follow the same rule for the proper noun, Rally, or do I just add an "s" to the end (e.g., "the Kennedys")?

Used in a sentence:

He chained together multiple [Rallys/Rallies/?].

In general, is there a formal rule for pluralizing proper nouns that are also English words?

3

Short answer: use 'Rallies'.

This is a question about spelling, since you already realize that the plural of Rally has an es sound at the end. Either way, Rallys or Rallies, it will be pronounced the same.

There may be formal rules, but there are no official rules. No one officiates the English language, although some people try to, in vain.

So, ultimately, you would need to use your preferred or favorite style guide (such as Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), APA, New York Times) or just make up your own rule, or go with what looks better to you. This is especially the case with something so esoteric or specialized as card names of a niche card game.

CMOS Online says the following in the appropriate section:

7.8 Plurals of proper nouns

Names of persons and other capitalized nouns normally form the plural by adding s or es. Rare exceptions, including the last example, are generally listed in Webster’s.

The rare exception is the name Romany which CMOS pluralizes as Romanies. So, frankly, that wasn't much help. CMOS, as far as I can tell, does not give a rule for what we are looking for.

Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (4 ed.) has only this:

6 Names, etc., ending in -y.

Proper names ending in -y have plurals in -ys: the two Germanys; three Marys in the class; the Kennedys. Note also lay-bys, stand-bys, the ‘if onlys’, treasurys (= treasury bonds).

So, I think there is no standard rule to cover all cases.

There is the professional baseball team of 125+ years, whose name is the Philadelphia Phillies. This seems to be a case of using "common noun pluralization" (philly > phillies) being incorporated into a proper noun, the name of the team. Perhaps this is the rule; it's hard to find a rule for this (and even if we did, we wouldn't have to agree with it).

This case seems similar to the plural of the noun lady-in-waiting, and I think the plural would be ladies-in-waiting. However, I don't know if this word is used as a proper noun. It would be, if it is used as a title: Ladies-in-waiting.

Going on the previous two examples, it seems Rallies can at least not be wrong. And since I'm a baseball fan, I might have to go with Rallies. :)

Sometimes we native speakers do avoid such quandaries by "writing around" (that is, avoiding) the issue with something like Rally Cards.

  • If you quote or summarize any of those style guides that you alluded to, I would consider that an authoritative source and accept this answer. I would also have accepted the answer if it said that none of the style guides have a rule that covers this, but the answer implies that if I pick my favorite one, I'll find the answer. I'm not an expert at searching the Chicago Manual of Style, but I ended up here and on a few other pages, and didn't find anything that appeared to answer the question. – Rainbolt Mar 17 '16 at 13:15
  • I have access to the latest CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style) through my public library. I'll take a look ASAP to what, if anything it says regarding the issue. I'll let you know. Frankly, I didn't quote any other guide, because I don't know if one can access them without payment. – Alan Carmack Mar 17 '16 at 13:23
  • Oh, I thought these style guides were free resources. I ended up on various style guide websites all the time when I did research for papers in high school and college, so I assumed I was looking at the digitized versions of the guides. Now that I know that they cost money, this answer looks complete to me. Sorry for the hassle. – Rainbolt Mar 17 '16 at 13:40
  • It's no hassle; it's an interesting question. I've edited my answer to include what little CMOS says. – Alan Carmack Mar 17 '16 at 19:31
  • The Daily Telegraph makes an exception for "the two Germanies". – David Richerby Jan 20 '18 at 13:44
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If you're among friends, then any plural that is understood is okay (e.g. Rallys, RTA's, &etc). In a slightly more formal case, I would recommend: "Rally the Ancestors cards"or "Rally cards"

Edit/expansion:

In general, the rule for pluralizing difficult nouns is to use the plural form of the base noun. As an example, many people incorrectly pluralize "brother in-law" as "brother in-laws" - i.e. they simply stick an 's' on the end. But the "in-law" portion is simply a modification of the base noun, brother. So the correct plural is "brothers in-law".

Similarly, in your case, the base noun is "card" and all the rest just describes what kind of card you're talking about. Which is why the proper plural would be "Rally the Ancestors cards".

  • I didn't realize that I needed to state explicitly that I am looking for formal rules, and not just something that will satisfy my friends. I apologize if my edit to the question invalidated part of your answer. – Rainbolt Dec 2 '15 at 21:52
  • 1
    It would probably be more appropriate in this context to use the full name of the card anyway. Hypothetically, though, if you wanted to refer to multiple objects that happened have the proper name "Rally", I think both "Rallys" and "Rallies" might be acceptable depending on the exact context. It's still better to write around situations like this when possible, though. – Era Dec 3 '15 at 0:11
  • Meh. Brother-in-laws or brothers-in-law? Pedantic? See Whoppers Junior and hashes brown – Alan Carmack Mar 14 '16 at 11:36
  • He asked for the formal rule. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Mar 14 '16 at 12:21
  • This looks like the answer a trademark lawyer would give. (They insist that, e.g., Photoshop can't be a verb because treating a trademark like an ordinary word diminishes the claim that it's special and needs protection.) – David Richerby Jan 20 '18 at 13:35

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