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handful, handfuls

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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The proper plural is handfuls, not handsful.

Consider this usage note from Dictionary.com.

The plurals of nouns ending in -ful are usually formed by adding -s to the suffix: two cupfuls; two scant teaspoonfuls. Perhaps influenced by the phrase in which a noun is followed by the adjective full (both arms full of packages), some speakers and writers pluralize such nouns by adding -s before the suffix: two cupsful.

Dictionary.reference.com/search?q=-ful.

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3 Comments

  • Kandan Mobley
    4timesayear "No, the proper plural is not "handfuls". "Ful" or "full" is not a noun like "load". If you were talking about "Truck loads", then "loads" is proper, but "fuls" is not a noun at all, I don't care what the modern useage is. Teaspoonsful, cupsful, handsful are the proper way to spell with the suffix "ful". Tired of having our language corrupted." 
    LikeReplyReport 52 years ago
  • Kandan Mobley
    4timesayear is dead wrong on this. "Handfuls" is the proper pluralization, and has been since the word originated in the proto-Germanic. It has been the pluralization in English since it was spelled like that in Old English, one of the few words that retain their spelling from then. Other Indo-European languages also pluralize it the same way. "Handsful" is an acceptable pluralization now, but it is the new pluralization, not the other way around, and most editors would correct it to "handfuls" except when it is used in a direct quote. The author here is correct, and "hands full" is two words with a rather different meaning. "Handsful" is the now an accepted bastardization. 
    LikeReplyReport2 years ago
  • 4timesayear
    No, the proper plural is not "handfuls". "Ful" or "full" is not a noun like "load". If you were talking about "Truck loads", then "loads" is proper, but "fuls" is not a noun at all, I don't care what the modern useage is. Teaspoonsful, cupsful, handsful are the proper way to spell with the suffix "ful". Tired of having our language corrupted. 
    LikeReplyReport 13 years ago

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