Plus and Minus
Would you spell pluses and minuses this way?
A colleague raised this question the other day and I found myself thinking further about it after I had answered quickly. First of all, he asked whether "plus" and "minus" are nouns nowadays? I think there is no doubt that they are. You hear people saying things like "A plus of the conference centre is the big car park, but the distance from any form of public transport is a distinct minus".
So, the words are being used as nouns. Once they are being spoken, they will be written and probably used in the plural. So we need to know how to spell pluses/plusses and minuses/minusses. "Minuses" seems to me to be quite clear. It rhymes with sinuses not with blunderbusses, and the emphasis is on the first syllable so there is no rule or precedent to suggest that it should be spelt otherwise.
What about plusses though? Pluses looks to me as though it should rhyme with abuses - and there are plenty of people out there (including BBC Sport) spelling it with a double "s". But then there is "buses". I don't know about you, but I have so far failed to think of any other single syllable words ending in a single "s". So, my preference is for pluses and minuses - after all, it seems tidier to follow the same rule for both unless there is a good reason not to.
Little nerdish note: bus comes from the Latin "omnibus" which means "for everyone". We have shortened it to "bus" which is probably why there are not many words like it.