Q. I’ve polled all the editors in the building on this, plus checked your manual. Other than rewriting the sentence entirely so it wouldn’t matter if we had “is” or “are,” no one is quite sure how to handle it. I hope you can help, wish this were a chat room. :) Is a term like “award(s)” plural or singular? To me, since the reader will “read” it as plural, it should be plural, but that’s the advertising copy editor in me. As for grammatical correctness, I don’t really know if it’s a plural word or not, since technically the “s” is only inferred, right?

Q. Since the late 1980s, when I got my first copy of CMOS, I have understood that verbs associated with a noun used to group plural items should correspond with the singular, grouping noun. For example, “A growing number of reports has revealed . . .” Microsoft Word, however, keeps indicating a grammatical error when I follow this rule and was placated when I changed “has” to “have” in the above example. Can you please clarify who is right? Is it I or the copyeditors consulted by Bill Gates?

Q. When I was working on my graduate degree in English, I was told by a professor that the rule had changed for plurals of numbers (written as numbers) and letters (3s rather than 3’s or As rather than A’s). For the past 15 years I have been teaching it that way. Another colleague just recently saw that rule change somewhere online. Our new textbooks, however, do not teach it that way. We are currently working on a new handbook and would like to know if the rule has been changed or not. Thanks.

Q. What is the correct ending (singular or plural) to this sentence? This moving, musical journey inspires “drummers” of all ages to follow the beat in their heart. Is it hearts? Is it beats and hearts? Is it just beat and heart? This is driving me insane! Please help!

Q. I am making a plaque which reads “Happy Holidays.” Underneath is a picture of a sled. Underneath that is “The Simmons.” Their last name is Simmons (with an s). How should it read on the plaque? The Simmons’, The Simmons’s, or just The Simmons? Thank you.

Q. My question refers to the plural use of acronyms and initialisms. As I have always understood it, the acronym or initialism can be pluralized only if the last letter indicates the plural item. So MOU (memorandum/memoranda of understanding) cannot become MOUs, but ICT can become ICTs (information and communication technologies). I run into this problem a lot with the initialism RFP (request for proposals), which people like to pluralize as RFPs to indicate multiple requests. The word proposals is already plural, so it does not make sense to me to add an s to the end of the initialism. What is the correct way to make acronyms or initialisms plural?

Q. If one refers to the DeVos (pronounced DeVOSS) family members in the plural, would they be the DeVoses or the DeVosses? If the former, that would appear to be pronounced “DeVOSEes” rather than “DeVOSSES,” as would be correct.

Q. Should the word head in this sentence have an s on it to agree with the multiple kids, or does this create a situation where each kid ends up with multiple heads? “The children put their hats on their heads.”

Q. The editors at our institution disagree about whether the singular point or plural points should be used in the following phrase: “0.4 percentage point(s).” Can you be the decider, as our commander-in-chief would say, on this one?

Q. Is this a plural or a singular: John Smith et al. (1990) argues (or argue)? And should a comma be placed after the year?