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?

A. A term ending in “(s)” is both plural and singular. If you must use such a device (and it can be a useful shorthand), you have to be prepared to adjust the surrounding context as necessary: for example, “the award(s) is (are) accounted for.” A parenthetical plural verb must correspond to the parenthetical ending. But that’s an awkward example. In general, avoid such shorthand unless it can be used simply and effectively, as in the following example:

Place an “about the author(s)” statement on the copyright page (usually page iv).