The “I’m too busy to write an explanation” edition.
I’m in the crazy preparation period for a couple of brand new classes in a brand new environment, so I’ve been a little less than comprehensive in my blogging lately. Here, then, is California Teacher Guy, come to save me with another of his observant questions.
My dear Mrs. Chili,
Why is the plural of passerby passersby, while the plural of handful is handfuls? I hope you can shed some light on this mystery.
With eager anticipation and gratitude,
I haven’t had the time to research this, but my instinct tells me that passersby is the way it is because it’s the passers who are plural – not the bys (if there even were such a thing). I’m just guessing here, but I’d say that handfuls, rather than handsful, is the correct plural because we’re talking about a quantity – the amount that can fit in the hands – and not the hands themselves. Like I said, though, I’m just guessing.
Is anyone else able to shed a little better-researched light?