The Wonderful Plural of OS

When written, what’s the plural of OS?

And, for that matter, how do you pronounce the singular and the plural? Please give nationality when replying.

46 thoughts on “The Wonderful Plural of OS

  1. OSes! :)

    Singular pronounced as each letter E.g. O.S.

    Plural pronounced as above except the “es” is pronounced “ez”

    South African my friend!

  2. Hmm,

    OSii (Latin :P)
    OS’s is the one I use. (British)
    I usually read it “Oh, Ess-esz) (Zee zound, not American Zed zound)

  3. It should be written “OSs” and pronounced “oh ess is”. The singular is pronounced “oh ess”. I’m British. Here’s a quote from “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”:

    Only one significant task has been lifted from the apostrophe’s workload in recent years: it no longer has to appear in the plurals of abbreviations (“MPs”) or plural dates (“1980s”). Until quite recently, it was customary to write “MP’s” and “1980’s” — and in fact this convention still applies in America.

  4. Written plural of OS: OSes

    Pronunciation of OS: Oh-Es

    Pronunciation of OSes: Oh-Esses

    Citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  5. For other acronyms I usually just append a lower-case “s”. For example:

    API (singular), APIs (plural)

    In the case of “OS” I wouldn’t follow this convention because the repeated “s” is ugly (“OSs”) and easily confused with “OSS” (“Open Source Software”). So in this case I would just always write “operating systems” when I need to use the plural.

    Most English grammar experts would condemn the use of an apostrophe here as incorrect. The apostrophe should only be used to indicate possession (doesn’t apply here) and contraction (doesn’t apply: what letters have been omitted?).

    Nationality: Australian.

  6. I’m going to have to agree with Stephen:

    It should be written “OSs” and pronounced “oh ess is”. The singular is pronounced “oh ess”.

    I’m Canadian.

  7. As mentioned by Stephen up there, the proper form is OSs, to follow the pattern. Similiar things include DVDs, CDs, etc. Adding “es” is tempting because that’s how we’d pluarlize it if the word ended in s (systemses?). I don’t think it’s right (philosophically, at least) when pluralizing acronyms.

    -Silly American

  8. I tend to write “OSs” or “OSes”, roughly equally often, and pronounce both “OH ess is”, to rhyme with, say, “confesses”.

    I’m UKian – from deepest darkest Lancashire, in fact.

  9. OSes

    OS pronounced “oss” to rhyme with “floss”, OSes pronounced “osses” to rhyme with “flosses”

    South African, English speaking.

  10. It is, in fact, proper to apply an apostrophe when making a plural of an abbreviation, thus: “OS’s”, pronounced “oh esses”.

    In recent years, the entirely justified horror expressed at the so-called “greengrocer’s apostrophe” (“Fresh pea’s and carrot’s for sale!” — ugh!) has resulted in an unfortunate myth to the effect that apostrophes are /always/ wrong in making plurals. This is not so.

  11. Thnaks to J.W.Kennedy, I finally understand why no one suggests the apostrophe version the most common (according to Google, at least). See
    which finds 604K results and compare it with
    finding “only” 566K results.
    When it comes to pronounciation, no complaints here.
    Oh, I’d forgot, I’m Czech.

  12. in spanish would be SSOO (we double the first letter if the word is in plural, ie. Estados Unidos (United States) becomes EEUU)

  13. After looking up plurals of various things several weeks ago in my workplace’s copy of the Chicago Manual Of Style, my recollection is that John Kennedy is wrong, and apostrophes are NOT appropriate when pluralizing abbreviations, even for “clarity.” Certainly letters (Xs) and numbers (7s) are pluralized by adding a single ‘s’ when it can be done without confusion. I THINK you add an “es” otherwise, but I can’t recall. In the case of the abbreviation “OS,” I would suspect the proper plural is “OSs,” or else “OSes,” but certainly not “OS’s” or “OS’es.”

    USA here.

  14. How about ” OS’ “? That’s usually used for pluralizing something that ends with an S.

  15. American, agree with Ray, Alex, Peter, James, will and Seth, who all say the same thing apart from the variation on plurals which, I have a feeling, is due to locale.

    Andy, OS’ is used for making something possessive, when it’s already plural and ends in S.

  16. I would actually avoid having to use the plural by using an adjective: “various OS”, “many OS”, “most OS”.

    If you are speaking, just use the whole word:
    “operating systems”. Avoids any problems… ;-)

    My 2c from Eastern Tennessee, USA

  17. I would say “OSe”. I’m German and the singular “Betriebssystem” would become “Betriebssysteme”, so I guess it’s just logic. Although you should apply only English grammar on an English word.

  18. What Alex Bishop says: in English the plural is spelled OSes and pronounced “oh ess ez,” while the singular is pronounced “oh ess.”

    Nationality: American and Hungarian

  19. Spelled: OSes

    Pronounced: “Oh Ess-ez” or “Operating Systems”

    Nationality: Californian (er, American)

  20. Results so far:

    OSes:              14
    OSs                 5
    Operating Systems:  3
    OS's                2
    OS'es               1
    OSms                1
    OS'                 1
    OSen                1

    It looks like we have a clear winner to me.

    FWIW, I think it’s “OSes” too, because the general English rule of plurals is “add ‘s’, except when it ends with an S-sound, in which case add ‘es'”. I think it’s reasonable to apply this to abbreviations also.

    [This blogpost was inspired by an email from the documentation group manager at work, who asserted that “OSs” was correct.]

  21. OSes, oh-ess-uz. Anyone above the age of seven including an apostrophe should be euphanised immediately.

    In general Operating Systems is much preferred, of course.

    – Chris

  22. I would have said OSes, but the post about Eats, Shoots and Leaves has convinced me that is should probably really be OSs. Definatly not OS’s though.

    I spell it out, as I do with SQL. I’m british.

  23. Another vote from the States (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, depending on how far back I go) for OSes, pronounced oh-es-iz. Word or abbreviation ends in an S sound, add -es to it. And whoever wrote that America still uses apostrophes to pluralize abbreviations forgot to mention it’s only the Americans who did poorly in high-school English classes. (Which I admit is probably most of us.)

  24. In Dutch I would write: OS’en [ oh-ess-un ]
    In English I would write: OSes [ oh-ess-uz ]

    (And I’m from Belgium ;-) )

  25. OS – ‘Oh-Ess’
    OSes – ‘Operating Systems’

    And I’m English.