Grammar Alumni: What Is the Correct Plural |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Alumni: What Is the Correct Plural

You might already know that a person who graduates from a school is considered to be an alumnus. But what’s the word for several people who have completed their education at an institution?

The answer lies in some basic Latin, as we’ll discuss.

Finding the Correct Plural Version of Alumni

Many American grammar conundrums have simple solutions. However, when it comes to the plural of alumnus, there’s just a little bit more to consider and memorize.

Let’s look at the elements surrounding alumni:

  • Alumnus is the singular version of the noun, meaning “someone who has graduated from an institution.” It’s also the word for a single male graduate.
  • Alumni is the plural noun for a group of male graduates or a mixed group of male and female graduates.
  • Alumna is the correct version for a single female graduate.
  • Alumnae is correct when referring to a group of female-only graduates.

Obviously, that’s a hearty group of spellings and meanings to keep track of. So, how can you know which one to use without returning to this article daily?

Using the Right Plural Version of Alumnus

Alumnus can be a challenging word to pluralize because it has its roots in old Latin. This is why it has minute variations that concern singular and plural form as well as gender.

If you ever find yourself stuck in choosing the correct plural version, there are a few ways to resolve it.

The first is to simply memorize the different forms. You could write them out on an index card or a piece of notebook paper and then practice each one in multiple sentences. This can be a good idea if your day-to-day writing requires you to use these words often. In that case, it’s best to just master the differences quickly.

Another option would be to mentally review the guidelines we’ve discussed and then bookmark and return to this post (or your favorite style guide) whenever needed. That can make sense if you don’t have to use alumni-related words that often.

And finally, if alumnus-alumni and alumna-alumnae remain riddles of spelling at times, you can always opt for a less-complicated word, such as graduates. Although it’s better to master a word than avoid it, English offers us a sufficient vocabulary for delivering thoughts and ideas.

Want to Pick Up More Grammar Tips?

Even the alumnus of a prolific university can wrestle with questions of grammar sometimes. Whether you’re a young student, a hobbyist, a college professor, or business professional, you’ll find many tips, techniques, and discussions for enhancing your skills in American English here at our website.

Look through some of our past articles for more helpful advice. You can also check back weekly for updates or ask a question in the comment boxes below!

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