She's my ex
In my photo album, you see many exes/exs/ex's of mine?
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We form the plurals of regular nouns ending in the sound /s/ by adding the sound /ɪz/ to the word. So for the word bus, /bʌs/, we get the plural form /bʌsɪz/. In writing we represent this with the written suffix -ES. So we write the plural form of bus as buses.
Words that end with the written letter X usually end with an /s/ sound. The word box, for example is pronounced /bɒks/. So we pronounce the plural form of box as /bɒksɪz/. In the writing we add the -ES ending: boxes.
The word ex is a regular, normal noun in English. The singular is pronounced /eks/ and written ex. The plural is pronounced /eksɪz/ and written exes.
1. Some nouns in English are irregular. The word mouse ends in an /s/ sound, but it has an irregular plural, /maɪs/, written like this: mice.
2. If a noun ending in an /s/ sound has the letters SE at the end, then we still add /ɪz/ to the pronunciation, but we only add S to make the written plural. We don't add ES. For example, the plural of horse is horses, not
Ex is not an abbreviation nor an acronym. There is no reason not to follow the pluralization rule of English words.
If words end in "sh", "ch", "s", "x" and "z", we are supposed to add "-es" at the end except for some exceptions.
I have checked Oxford Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Collins Online Dictionary, but none of them listed the plural from of the word. I suspect the reason is it follows the pluralization rule.
The best way to say this formally is to say it like:
I saw my ex-boyfriend at the mall yesterday.
The ex-policemen were on a strike demanding justice.
All of my ex-husbands showed up at my latest wedding!
In informal English, especially US English, it is acceptable to say:
Hey man! I saw your ex with this hot dude yesterday!
She is still in touch with all of her exes.
Very relevant excerpt from Garner's Modern English Usage (2016):
ex (n.) is a casualism in the sense of a former spouse or lover
The plural of ex is exes, and the possessive is ex's — but be aware that many readers will find these forms odd-looking.
Wiktionary also says it's exes:
exes (n.) (plural of ex English) vb. (en-third-person singular of: ex)
And so does WordHippo (a site I had never run across until researching this question):
What's the plural form of ex? Here's the word you're looking for.
The plural form of ex is exes.
If you want to appear "properly informed" for what passes for the moment as educated, use exes (no matter how funny it looks1). Otherwise, feel free to use ex's. Just don't get it confused with the possessive of the singular ex, which is also ex's.
Yours (or, for some, your's) is a great question, since the word ex meaning ex-girlfriend is a detached prefix. It looks weird standing there so alone, so short, ending with -x, added to words with the hyphen attached: ex-girlfriend, ex-convict.
Ex is also the "name" of the letter X, and people don't agree how to pluralize letters. Answers to the ELU question What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? return mixed results. Yet, if one decides that the plural of x is x's, it's not unreasonable to intuit that the plural of ex is ex's.
This plural-marking apostrophe carries over to other short words. What's the plural of and? Is it ands or and's? You will find plenty of the latter in the idiom no if's and's or but's, spelled like that, the apostrophe indicating plural.
Sure, there are rules devised by grammarians, but these are the same people who brought you such damnable rules as don't start a sentence with and or end one with a preposition.
Most native speakers do not intuitively know how to pluralize ex. There are plenty of examples of pluralizing it as ex's: for example, see the reference to the hit single "All My Ex's Live in Texas" below.
This doubt carries over to certain words that end in -ex. You'll find plenty of T-Rex's running around.
And this is not limited to ex. People, native speakers, tend to reach for the apostrophe when in doubt. Sometimes last names are pluralized with an apostrophe: the Jackson's. (And no one can authoritatively say it's wrong to do so.) Two hundred years ago, the apostrophe was used to pluralize "foreign-sounding" words ending with a vowel: pasta's, potato's, ouzo's (for a reference on this, see the next link). Now if a grocer uses potato's or banana's he's accused of using the dreadful greengrocers’ apostrophe.
In any case, the writer of the hit single "All My Ex's Live in Texas" made a stylistic choice (consciously or not), and I'm not sure that this spelling (ex's) was necessarily done out of ignorance of "standard" pluralization rules; or whether it was chosen as an assertion of an alternative spelling or just because it looked better.
Apparently the author of this tweet was using their/his (take your pick) noggin:
Notice how careful 'brown boy' was to pluralize ho as hoes, but good luck determining if that's "correct." Hos has a history.
My answer is that it depends. Why shouldn't it be? This ELU site & ELL usually eschew prescriptivist answers. And if you can take your pick in the case of other uses, why can't you take your pick in the case of your ex's/exes? As usual, you should choose the Style Guide of your choice whether that's Strunk & White or Shafer & Strait. If English speakers acted in accord, it would be oxes; we've had over a millennium to conform this beast to the norm.
Last thought: perhaps it should be ices, given that ex is from the Latin and the traditional plural of codex is codices, index is indices, etc. Many might feel ices to be quite an appropriate plural for ex.