If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Thursday, 24 March 2016


Kenyan newspapers published in English are expected to uphold high linguistic standards. That's why even one misspelt word can cause quite an uproar from readers. And many learners of English expect the press to help them master the language. But often times, the local media leads them astray. A little sermon about summons and summonses will suffice.

One national paper, recently carried a story that had a headline with the word 'summonses' meaning reference was being made to more than one summons.

Confusing? Probably.

A rival paper had the same story, but instead opted to use the word, 'summons' in the same context as the first newspaper.

Clearly, one of the papers is guilty of breaking grammatical rules of the English language.

And if you think the correct plural form to use is 'summons', then you better pay closer attention.

You see, the final 's' in 'summons' can easily deceive one into thinking the word is already in the plural form.

But actually, it's perfectly in order to say, 'a summons' because the word is in singular form.

So, to summarize this sermon, the plural of summons is summonses.

Don't summon me for a refresher English course, however.

The verb summon is not the same as the nouns summons or summonses!

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