Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grammar brainiacs: Help me get my sermon title right

Grammarians, homeschooling moms, anyone.

This Sunday, I plan on preaching Romans 1:16-17, and how they express the five "solas" (sola's?). My first form of the title is:
Five “Alone’s” that Changed Everything 
What I mean is
Five Uses Of The Word "Alone" That Changed Everything
but that's a hopelessly unwieldy title.

But should it be "Alone's"? Or should it be instead
Five “Alones” that Changed Everything 
But that feels ;like I'm saying five occurrences of the word "alones." And I'm not.

Which is it? And why? Link to an authority? I don't even know how to Google this.

Have at it, and thanks.


Chris H said...

Perhaps a different wording: "When 'Alone' Changed Everything."

You can always make sure people know there are 5, but this gets you around having to find a plural of an adjective being used as a noun.

David said...

Five “Alones” that Changed Everything

Alones is plural
Alone's is possessive

DJP said...

Chris, you are a brother after my own heart. You remind me of the Yogi Berra saying, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"

Kevin Jackson said...

You don't want to use "Alone's" because it indicates a possessive or genitive, and this is neither case. "Alones" is correct, but I can see the potential source of confusion. Oddly I can't find any specific rules pertaining to this question.

One possibility would be to go with "Five Uses of 'Alone' That Changed the World". This would help somewhat with the unwieldiness, although it is still a bit awkward. I assume there is a reason that you want to use "alone" rather than "sola"; otherwise you could always go with "Five 'Solas' That Changed the World", which would, in my opinion, solve all of your problems.

So, to sum up:
- Five "Alones" That Changed the World is correct, although potentially confusing.
- Five Uses of "Alone" That Changed the World works, too, although it suffers from some awkwardness.
- Five "Solas" That Changed the World may be best unless you are set on not using "sola".

Hope that helps.


DJP said...


What about...

"Alone" X 5 = Reformation


"Alone" X 5 = Revolution

Cathy M. said...

The following sentence is correct:

I've titled Sunday's sermon, "Five Alones That Changed Everything."

Don't make alones possessive.
Do use italics, bold type, or underline.
Do post a link for the sermon.

Family Blogs said...

How about going for something different? Here's my stab at it:

'Sola' Powered Living

Give Me Five: Why the word alone means a whole lot

Family Blogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Geiger said...

Just go with the "five solas". Be happy.

K. Dietz said...

I've had this same headache of a dilemma, and while I found that no two source on the internet could agree (convincing me to re-word my thesis altogether), the actual authoritative source I found, in the end, was from the Gregg Reference Manual:

"When words taken from other parts of speech are used as nouns, they are usually pluralized by the addition of s or es. Example: Ifs, ands, or buts."

I vote for re-wording; otherwise Alones is fine, no quotation marks needed.

Tom said...

"Alones" looks Spanish to me because it's not a real English word.

I like Chris H's suggestion. "When 'Alone' Changed Everything". It sounds like you are trying to put the "plural nouns" approach to structuring your sermon into your title. What about just having some fun with the title? Like "When 'Alone' Unifies" or "When 'Nothing But' Changed Everything" or "Nothing But = Everything And".

Half phun!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

It is not good for man to be alone.

I vote for Andrew's submissions, especially the first one!

(My verification word: manaSub. It's what the Israelites ate for lunch.)

Gary Good said...

As others have said, using an apostrophe indicates possession.

I'd go with italicizing Alones. This would indicate that there is something special regarding the use of this word, whereas making it bold only makes it stand out. Do not underline it. Underlining was used in the days of typewriters as a substitute for italics.

GrammaMack said...

Another authority: "Words and hyphenated phrases that are not nouns but are used as nouns usually form the plural by adding 's' or 'es.'...ifs and buts, dos and don'ts, maybes" (Chicago Manual of Style, 7.13).

GrammaMack said...

Another authority: "Words and hyphenated phrases that are not nouns but are used as nouns usually form the plural by adding 's' or 'es.'...ifs and buts, dos and don'ts, thank-yous, maybes" (Chicago Manual of Style, 7.13).

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I'd go with Andrew's "Give Me Five", or maybe "Take Five" ;D

"Alones" is correct, but it does look odd.

Julie G

David_and_Goliath said...

My suggestion:
"Five times when when it's good to be Alone"

Rachael Starke said...

You could re-write it in Chemistry-ese:

5Alone + Holy Spirit --> Everything

Dwayne said...

"5 Alones that came together to change everything"

DJP said...

Thanks, y'all. I have such smart readers.

Ended up with a time-crunch and went with FIVE "ALONES" THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING.

threegirldad said...

It's fine to put the word in quotes, also per Chicago Manual of Style.