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Is it the National, or the Nationals?

Is it the National, or the Nationals?

by Amy Tourond

As one of the editors of this fabulous magazine, I strive to represent the English language as correctly as possible. Yes, I can be a bit like the grammar police. Maybe it comes from the grammar class I attended each week throughout grade school. We learned contractions, compound words, compound sentences, pronouns, comma usage, verb tenses and so much more. Correct use of the written and spoken word was drilled into us, and I am grateful for that even though it means I get a little prickly about a few very common faux pas.
Grammar Police
Among my favorites are unthawed and irregardless. Interestingly, my spell check thinks these are legitimate words, and a check on confirms they are indeed real words but are labeled as nonstandard. How exactly does one un-thaw something? By undoing the thawing process, you would simply be freezing it. Or would you? Irregardless is a whole other complicated situation, being constructed with a double negative of ‘ir’ and ‘less’. We don’t even write sentences using double negatives, so let’s just agree to drop the ‘ir’, regardless of the context.

With dog show language, the clear winner has to be the misuse of Nationals. It is unclear when people started changing the National Specialty to the Nationals. “See you at Nationals.” “Good luck at Nationals.” “We did well at Nationals.” “Nationals is in Topeka.” And perhaps my favorite is the Weimaraner Club of America creating a logo for this year’s event which says “WCA Nationals 2019.”

It just isn’t right, so in an effort to help clear up the proper use of the word National vs. Nationals, I have created this fun chart.

Singular, as in one event
The National IS

  • Shortened version of National Specialty
  • Typically hosted once a year by a parent club
  • A specific one-time event, as in the 2019 National

Try using National Specialty instead of just National. You wouldn’t say, “See you at National Specialties.” unless of course you were meeting a friend at multiple National Specialties 😉

Examples of correct usage:

  • I am attending the National this year.
  • Spot was Winners Dog at the National.
  • Good luck at the DPCA National.
  • The National was very well attended.
  • The rings at the National were so beautiful this year.
  • The club did a great job hosting the 2019 National.
Plural, as in multiple events
Nationals ARE

  • Shortened version of National Specialties
  • Can refer to multiple events over several years, or a combination of events

Try using National Specialties instead of just Nationals. For example, “This club’s National Specialties are always so enjoyable.”

Examples of correct usage:

  • I have attended 20 nationals over the years.
  • I am going to the Doberman & Boxer Nationals.
  • Fifi has won a record-breaking four Nationals.
  • The nationals from 1970-1980 were the best attended in history.
  • Spot was Winners Dog at back to back nationals.
  • Nationals (think National Specialties) are the best place to see quality dogs.