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  1. #1
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    Question plurals: flies vs. flys

    Hello. I'm editing a sentence, "... small boys in the pre-school couldn't manage their flies when they went to pee in the toilet."

    Grammatically, I think the plural is correct, but I couldn't help wondering if 'flies' applies only to the insects that fly around. Would more than one zipper fly be pluralized in the same way? I don't want to confuse the reader.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    thod00 is offline Member
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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    Looks OK to me.

    This is BE, I guess you could switch to 'zipper' if you wanted to avoid the issue or widen your audience.

    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

  3. #3
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    Quote Originally Posted by thod00 View Post
    Looks OK to me.

    This is BE, I guess you could switch to 'zipper' if you wanted to avoid the issue or widen your audience.

    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

    I would agree with changing it to zipper. If a German is reading about a "fly" or a Fliege, he/she would think it is either the fly that bothers us in the summer, or what in North America is called a "bowtie".

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    Thumbs up Re: plurals: flies vs. flys--thanks for the replies

    Thanks for your replies. Unfortunately, we had used zipper earlier in the paragraph. As well, I was advised by a male friend that little boys don't use zippers; up to a certain age they have buttons. (Ya learn something every day.)

    I decided to go with the 'flies', because the context from the previous sentence would help in understanding the term (even for Germans!)

    I appreciate your feedback.
    JT

  5. #5
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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    Where does this male friend live and how many years ago was he a little boy? All the children's clothing in the stores here (in the US) have zippers.

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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    'fly' (plural 'flies') is the actual opening at the front of the trousers, not the zipper or buttons used to close it and provide easy access when Nature calls.

    Young children do have trouble with buttons, but what's so hard about a zipper? To say 'the boy couldn't manage his zipper' seems to suggest at least, motor co-ordination problems, at worst, mental deficiency.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    I am most intrigued by the dialogue I seem to have generated by this question! Of course, because I quoted only part of the sentence, I can see why some might speculate.

    Re the age of the author, he's 80, grew up in America, and has lived in Canada for ages. However, I was recently told by a friend who has young grandsons that some pants indeed have buttons, not zippers, so the littlest boys can't catch their penises in the zippers. Some even have Velcro closures. We're in Canada. I dunno; I have no male grandchildren.

    Re the mental deficiency, etc., the rest of the preceding and succeeding paragraphs (not quoted here) explains that 'some small boys' might have this difficulty for various reasons.

    So ... I hope this answers your (irrelevant to the grammar) questions and puts an end to this discussion.

    Thanks everyone for your interest and participation.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: plurals: flies vs. flys

    Solemnly responding to questions in this forum may indeed fulfill its intended purpose and so satisfy the person initiating the thread.
    Consider, if you will, some of the respondents in this forum answering many questions each day, and for years.
    You will understand if occasionally some levity sneaks it, not to be taken up seriously,and so indicated by the appropriate icon.

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