Or was it "a lotta in's, lotta out's, lotta what-have-you's"? According to the first plausible hit on Google when I searched today's question:
We use an apostrophe to create plural forms in two limited situations: for pluralized letters of the alphabet and when we are trying to create the plural form of a word that refers to the word itself. Here we also should italicize this "word as word," but not the 's ending that belongs to it. Do not use the apostrophe+s to create the plural of acronyms (pronounceable abbreviations such as laser and IRA and URL) and other abbreviations. (A possible exception to this last rule is an acronym that ends in "S": "We filed four NOS's in that folder.")Adds the Chicago Manual of Style as to the pluralization of RFP ("Request for Proposals"), "If you can stop thinking of the spelled-out meaning of the acronym and just treat the acronym itself as a word with its own meaning, you should be able to add that little s without fretting;" and (per another page) "Chicago style uses an apostrophe for the plural of lowercase single letters (x’s and o’s), but for little else . . . Of course, if you come across a plural that would be misunderstood without an apostrophe, you should use one: for instance, in A’s and B’s, the first term would be mistaken for “As” without an apostrophe, and the second term uses the apostrophe because it would look inconsistent to style them in different ways." Okay, that makes sense.
Some abbreviations have embedded plural forms, and there are often inconsistencies in creating the plurals of these words. The speed of an internal combustion engine is measured in "revolutions per minute" or rpm (lower case) and the efficiency of an automobile is reported in "miles per gallon" or mpg (no "-s" endings). On the other hand, baseball players love to accumulate "runs batted in," a statistic that is usually reported as RBIs (although it would not be terribly unusual to hear that someone got 100 RBI last year — and some baseball commentators will talk about "ribbies," too). Also, the U.S. military provides "meals ready to eat" and those rations are usually described as MREs (not MRE). When an abbreviation can be used to refer to a singular thing — a run batted in, a meal ready-to-eat, a prisoner of war — it's surely a good idea to form the plural by adding "s" to the abbreviation: RBIs, MREs, POWs.
- Jeffrey got four A's on his last report card.
- Towanda learned very quickly to mind her p's and q's.
- You have fifteen and's in that last paragraph.
So is this sentence correct: "In the 1980s, I visited many BBSes"? And should I stop being pedantic about referring to Ryan Howard's 108 RBI in 2010 and just call them RBIs?
Poll Results: The plural of RBI is: RBIs (65%), RBI (32%), RBI's (3%).