My student editor scurried across the hall from the Newsroom to my office, holding a proof of a newspaper page.
“Is it the freshmen class or the freshman class,” she asked.
“Freshman,” I responded with confidence.
But, wait! Was that correct? Suddenly freshmen sounded right too.
“Wait! Come back! Is that correct,” I asked, suddenly puzzled and diagramming sentences in my head.
I’m embarrassed to admit that we had to use the Google machine to determine the answer. Since we didn’t know, I thought the rule probably was worth explaining to you too.
You probably know the basic rules.
Freshman is the singular noun. For example, The freshman got lost on the way to his first class.
Freshmen is plural. For example, We will welcome the freshmen to campus.
What you may not know is that the adjective always is singular. The answer to our question above is freshman. For example, The freshman class is large this year.
I guess I should have trusted my gut to begin with, but now we all know for sure.
Now go forth and use words correctly!