General Writing and Grammar Help/Recognition - MCs grammar


Dear Ted, I attended our school's recognition yesterday. I couldn't help but notice why the MC said 3rd honors (name of the student), 2nd Honors (Name of the student), 1st Honors (name of the student. In every award there was only once student mentioned, but why did he use the plural form? I ask them, they said it's must be really in that way, but they could not explain. I'm really confused, could you help me on this? Thank you very much.

Dear Bernard:

You have posed an interesting question.   

In Great Britain and other Commonwealth countries, the plural form is the accepted name, no
matter how many students are in that category.  "First honours [honors]" is the highest
ranking category.  The categories that follow are "second honors" and "third honors."  

NOTE:  The British spell the word "honours."  Other countries, including the United States,
spell it "honors."

The explanation of WHY they use this terminology is "tradition."  

I do find it odd that there was just ONE student in each category.  Perhaps the MC meant
the highest-ranking student in EACH of the three categories.

I did some research and found that in the Philippines, using the plural verb is the
generally accept way.  Look at this entry I found searching the internet:

There is a rather detailed explanation of the British system at this site:

**** Bernard, I find it bothersome that someone at the school could not give you an
explanation.  Since it is the SCHOOL'S system, the school should have the courtesy of
providing you with a more substantial answer to your EXCELLENT question.

Years ago, a Canadian student wrote to me, asking for the translation of his school's
motto.  It was in Latin.  In fact, the three words were taken from a very famous Latin
poem.  He was writing an article for the school's newspaper, and he had already asked
teachers and administrators for the translation.  It was THEIR motto, yet no one knew
what it meant.

That's sad.


General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

©2017 All rights reserved.