In a Guardian article, I stumbled over this sentence:

These kind of men deter women from entering politics, when more females representatives is exactly what America needs.

I would have expected to read female representatives here (like green leaves, not greens leaves). Why is it females? Isn’t it used as an adjective here?

It doesn’t seem to be a typo, since I found a few similar cases in a Google search, such as this one in a 2005 book:

As a result of (…), Wales has one of the highest proportions of females representatives in the world, (…)

  • 1
    Maybe author speaks French and just slipped up matching adjective and noun plurality.
    – shawnt00
    Jul 22, 2016 at 6:36
  • 2
    Just cause you found something twice doesn't mean it can't be a mistake both times :) Jul 22, 2016 at 7:22
  • @curiousdannii: Obviously; but it’s hard to tell. It could be a (correct) language peculiarity after all. I also found a few more occurrences, I just didn’t cite every single one.
    – chirlu
    Jul 22, 2016 at 11:08

4 Answers 4


You have certainly found a typographical error. That you found multiple examples is testament not to its correctness, but only to the frequency of the phrase "female representatives" and to the declining standards of proofreading in the Age of the 24-hour News Cycle.

(p.s.: I just noticed that The Grauniad threw in a "these kind" for good measure!)

  • 2
    @Cronax - I doubt that, if only because I'm not aware of any government in the world that has representatives specifically for women.
    – stangdon
    Jul 21, 2016 at 11:35
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    @Cronax The latter would have to be females' representatives anyway, making the example in the question still incorrect. Jul 21, 2016 at 20:39
  • 1
    "You have certainly found a typographical error." - and that's why the satirical magazine "Private Eye" usually called it the Grauniad. Actually, it's got better at proofreading in recent years, not worse. Back in 2011 it told the world that "Spanish voters are have thrown out it's current government and brung in a new conservative government" - followed by the assertion that "Belgium currently has government." politicalscrapbook.net/2011/11/grauniad-grammatical-errors
    – alephzero
    Jul 21, 2016 at 21:24
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    @Adam You spoilt my wee bit o fun. Jul 22, 2016 at 4:55
  • 1
    Why are you repeatedly editing minor typos and errors into your post?
    – DJMcMayhem
    Jul 22, 2016 at 5:27

I can't but absolutely agree with P.E.Dant: It's an error no matter how you look at "female" -- as a part of a compound noun or a determiner.

It also might be that "women representatives", which appears to be more frequent than "female representatives", made someone decide that "females" wouldn't be incorrect, which actually is.

Anyways, Google Ngram Viewer doesn't find the "females representatives" collocation.



They forgot to add the possessive apostrophe. Add an s' to female when you want to add possessiveness to it. Add just adds when you want to pluralize it.

Female representatives is using the word female as an adjective. They are describing the representatives.

Females' representatives does not describe the representative but rather, it demonstrates who the representatives are representing, who they are sponsoring, who they work for.

Compare it with these other examples:

Lawyers' clients

Lucas' toys

If a noun ends in -s then to make it possessive, you can't just do Jones's, because then it will sound like


  • 1
    It would sound Joneses one "es", not two. That is precisely how it should be pronounced.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 23, 2016 at 20:29
  • A little hyperbole never hurt anyone :P
    – dockeryZ
    Sep 23, 2016 at 21:39

It would appear that the phrase females representatives treats females as a collective whole, meaning that the females themselves are the ones being represented.

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    I think not: the sentence is concerned with the gender of the representatives, not their constituents. Jul 21, 2016 at 10:17

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