by Emily Munnell

From the AP Stylebook Twitter Account: Alumni is plural for those who attended a school. If all are female, it’s alumnae. Singular: alumnus (male), alumna (female). #ApStyleChat

But in this day, when all acting professionals are actors and not everyone identifies as either male or female, should we really be distinguishing between male and female graduates? Maybe we could call all graduates alum and do away with gender-specific words?

According to a poll on Dictionary.com, only 8% of voters preferred the informal, non-gender-specific option of alum. This is a democratic society, which means majority rules.

In any case, DAR follows AP Style, and AP Style dictates:

  • Alumnus (uh-LUHM-nuhs) is used to refer to a male graduate or former student.
  • Alumni (uh-LUHM-nai) is the plural of alumnus but can also refer to a group of men and woman graduates/former students.
  • Alumna (uh-LUHM-nuh) is used to refer to a woman graduate or former student.
  • Alumnae (uh-LUHM-nee) is the plural of alumna.

Next time you are writing, consider plural versus singular, then think male versus female versus coed. Go through those steps, and you will curse Latin feel confident in choosing the proper word.