Grammar Question!

Since I know there’s at least a couple English teachers out there, I figure this is a good place to answer my question.

In this article, I have the following quote:

GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said. Nissan has indicated that it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States next year.

Since Leaf is being used as a proper noun, does it not follow the normal pluralization and become “Leaves”?  

As far as I know, “Leafs” isn’t a word — or wasn’t until it became a proper noun when Nissan chose it for a car.  

What’s the rule here?

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30 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'd have to go with $quot;Leafs$quot;

    It's a proper noun. I'm pretty sure that if I invited Ryan Leaf and his family over for dinner, I'd have the "Leafs" in my home. And then there were Leaf baseball cards, which were the Canadian version of Donruss....

  2. Proper nouns...

    ...in my experience often just add s, or maybe es, but no more changes than that.  For example, more than one member of a certain MA political family are Kennedys rather than the grammatically correct Kennedies at least as I've seen.  The 41st and 43rd Presidents are called the Bushes.  In this case I would say Nissan gets to make the call.

  3. I would have thought that this question was settled

    By a certain hockey team up in Toronto.

    • Though by that logic,

      Wouldn't we all be wearing sox right now? :-)

    • But it's inconsistent, which is why I ignored sports teams

      i.e. The Minnesota Timberwolves and not Timberwolfs.

      • Not inconsistent

        But you have to know the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs' name...

        They were apparently named after a WWI regiment from the area, known as the Maple Leaf regiment. So they pluralized the regiment's name, and since it was a proper noun, they added an 's' instead of changing it to "Leaves".

        So back to the original question, multiple electric Nissan automobiles should be referred to as 'Leafs'.

  4. As we're on the topic of grammar

    Since I know there's at least a couple English teachers out there, I figure this is a good place to answer my question.

    I believe it would be "Since there are a least a couple..." instead of there's which is the contraction for there is.

    • Couple is

      One of those grammatically tricky words to use a sentence.  Couple is used as meaning more than one which would imply the use of "are", I believe, and full disclosure I am NOT an English teacher or anything close (as if my sentence structure did not already prove that fact), that the proper use is "There is a couple".

      • Just thinking of how I would say a sentance out loud

        I either say "there's a couple of __" or "There are a couple of _".  

        If I don't contract, I use "are".  

      • I would agree..

        except that the usage here is implying more than one. The term "couple" is used with a singular verb when the implication is two people who have joined together to form one entity. Perhaps in this case "few" might be a better choice.

  5. Headless Words

    I think the relevant principle is that a "Leaf" in this case is a "headless word". The idea is that when a word with an irregular plural changes its meaning, it then takes a regular plural ending.

    Examples from Wikipedia:

    "Still lifes". A still life isn't really a kind of life.

    "Maple Leafs". The hockey team isn't really made up of leaves.

    "Sabertooths". A sabertooth isn't really a kind of tooth.

    "Lowlifes". A low life isn't really a kind of life.

    One interesting one is the device you use to move the pointer around on your computer screen. I tend to say "computer mice," but apparently "computer mouses" works too. Wikipedia suggests that this is because a computer mouse looks a little like a real mouse. Who knows?

    TedF

  6. $quot;Leafs$quot; is correct

    but in the blockquote, there should not be a comma after the word year in the first part of the sentence.  

    • Disagree

      Commas are used in pairs to trap phrases that interrupt a clause or that are intended to function parenthetically. You can place a comma before "and" when the "and" starts such a phrase:

      I said the right spelling is Leafs, and really meant it this time, as in Maple Leafs.

      There's 30,000 bazillion gallons of oil in the gulf, and 30,000 bazillion more on the shore, according to officials.

      GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said.

      • Disagree with the disagree

        I just tried it in Microsoft Word's spell check. MS Word does not like the comma.

        • MS Word does like you example though.

          There's 30,000 bazillion gallons of oil in the gulf, and 30,000 bazillion more on the shore, according to officials.

          The difference appears to be balance of the parts of speech on either side of AND.

          • And MS Word likes this.

            GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in the year after that, company officials have said.

            The only difference is changing "2012" into "the year after that". Perhaps MS Word is not smart enough to know that "next year" and "2012" are the same thing grammatically, but MS Word is smart enough to know that "next year" and "the year after that" are also the same thing grammatically.

            Curious!

            • Has it come to this?

              Citing Microsoft farking Word as some kind of authority? Have we fallen so far?

              Our once-great civilization has diminished to a vapor in the winds of Time.

            • Just read it

              GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said. Nissan has indicated that it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States next year.

              It's obvious that the writer intended for the voice to include the phrase "...and 30,000 in 2012," not as one more item in a list, but rather as an aside, a phrase similar to a parenthetical.  He punctuated accordingly.

              Contrast:

              GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, 30,000 in 2012 and 60,000 in 2013.

              versus

              GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said.

              I suppose I could contact my 9th grade grammar teacher.  That's unnecessary because the sentence is clear, and very much correct, as written. IMHO. (note punctuation)

              • At first, I agreed with your reading of this

                If the author wanted the "and 30,000 in 2012" to be a non-essential clause, it would be correct.  However, I now think it's a two part list, in which case the comma is not correct.  

                Written as "GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said." it's clear that this is a list of cars being produced in 2011 and 2012.  

                • Your reading is correct.

                  A comma is unnecessary in either reading, but incorrect, as I pointed out way up thread, in the context you site here--which is how most people would read it.  You get an A.  ;)

                • Style book

                  GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said. Nissan has indicated that it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States next year.

                  According to my AP stylebook, the answer depends on whether the clause, "...and 30,000 in 2012...,"  is nonessential or not.  You conclude it is not.  To me, it is nonessential.

                  From the stylebook, the clause is nonessential since it provides more information about something and although helpful, the reader would not be misled if the information were not there.

                  To me anyway, the clause seems very nonessential: introductory paragraphs make the point that electric vehicles have a very low production future, then the article states that production is to be only 10,000.  Then, in the nonessential clause set forth the following year low production.

                  I do see your point, but to me the author intended a nonessential clause and appropriately set it off with a comma.  

        • As a general rule...

          ...I wouldn't necessarily take MS Word's input to the bank.

  7. It's up to them

    I'd say it's up to the maker/owner because it's a proper noun, in this case a name.  

  8. Disney, Christmas and Tolkien

    Disney has seven Dwarfs, Christmas has Elfs but JRR Tolkien has Dwarves and Elves. His biographer, Tom Shippey even talks about a proof reader who went through the entire Lord of the Rings and changed every instance of Dwarves to Dwarfs and Elves to Elfs, only to change them all back when Tolkien went ballistic.

    Words like Leaves and Loaves and Hooves and Knives are all Old English words that survive because they were in continuous common usage since the Norman Conquests. Newer words ending in F do not use the rule, as in musical clefs or chefs. Since the car is brand new thing, I believe Leafs is appropriates.

  9. easy answer

    Liberal: it doesn't matter, to have more than one would be wasteful.

    Conservative: it doesn't matter, why would you not want a Hummer, or a few Hummers.

    Me: American 2003 Jeep Wrangler, 130 thousand miles, about to be handed down to my 16 year old daughter, though she'll probably keep taking the train to school.

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Sun 23 Nov 7:02 AM