In a sentence like:

I teach programming to first-years.

What’s the correct spelling for the last plural? first-years, first-year’s, ...?

I don’t know how to pluralize, hyphenate, and/or apostrophize.

  • 1
    I think the word you're looking for is freshman; I teach programming to freshman. – Alejandro Feb 12 '16 at 20:07
  • 2
    A good rule of thumb is: Plurals don't take apostrophes. If you follow that rule, you'll be correct 99.9% of the time. – stangdon Feb 12 '16 at 21:03
  • 1
    You've already got a good answer before, but on a more general note, this might help: oxforddictionaries.com/words/apostrophe – Lucky Feb 12 '16 at 23:29
  • The best word choice could depend on where you are (for example, I'd expect freshmen or first-year students, or informally freshies). A Wikipedia article, Student orientation, also mentions "In Canada, first year students are called "Frosh" or "first years." The terms "freshies" and "freshers" are also emerging. In the United States, first year university students are typically referred to as freshmen." – Damkerng T. Feb 13 '16 at 2:16

I would not use first-years because we don't know what it really means. If you meant students, I would go with:

I teach programming to first-year students. (hyphen optional)

This pushes the plurality onto student, which is easy to manage.
But if you insist on using first-years of some form, I would use:

I teach programming to first-years. (hyphen optional)

In context it is just plural. No apostrophe because it is not modifying anything.

  • Hi, user3169. You said you would not use first-years and your example sentence is the same one as in the question. – user24743 Feb 13 '16 at 2:51
  • @Rathony Somehow what I wrote was not what I intended to write. I edited the answer according to what I meant to say. Thanks for catching my lapse. – user3169 Feb 13 '16 at 3:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.