Just in case you’ve wondered about it, the right way to write the phrase dos and don’ts is to just add an s to do and another to don’t.

No need to add an apostrophe. After all, we do not use apostrophes to create plurals.

The phrase means “rules of behavior.”


Photo credit: Attend Connect


3 thoughts on “Dos and don’ts

  1. Not necessarily plural. Putting apostrophe to separate the word. Otherwise, it reads as “dos” means two. Anyway, as long as we understand each other.

  2. Thank you for this Miss Janet, though it may seem that DOS might be interpreted as a Spanish word on first glance. Reading the whole context of the sentence structure will convey the essence.

  3. The term “dos” indeed looks like a Spanish (or Cebuano) term, doesn’t it? :) But this is English, so we know that the stock phrase “dos and don’ts” should be read as those things that one does and one doesn’t do.

    Roy, I get what you mean. When we write the phrase “the C’s of good writing,” we put an apostrophe so that we won’t read the second word as “Cs.” I discussed this in a prior post. Generally, though, we do not use apostrophes to create plurals or to separate terms–apostrophes are more often used to indicate possession or to replace missing text (such as using the apostrophe in “ma’am” to replace the missing “d” in “madam”).

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