Posted tagged ‘apostrophe’

Apostrophes and Possessives Made Clear

July 15, 2009

newsletterI got this newsletter from Jane Straus this morning in my inbox. Most of the time, I don’t forward these missives on to my blog, but this proves extremely helpful for people who have questions.

Plural and Possessive Forms with Names Ending in y

How do you form the plural of a proper noun that ends in y such as Murphy? Should you change the name to Murphies? Given how other English words ending in y form their plurals, you would think so.

Examples:

puppy / puppies

army / armies

supply / supplies

However, proper nouns are not made plural in the same way common nouns are.

Rule: Do not change the spelling of a name to make it plural. Instead, just add s.

Examples:

I visited the Murphys last weekend.

We have two Zacharys in our office.

What if you want to show possession with a name that ends in y?

Rule: To show singular possession, use the apostrophe and then the s.

Example: I petted Mrs. Murphy’s cat.

Rule: To show plural possession, make the proper noun plural first, then use the apostrophe.

Examples:

I petted the Murphys’ cat.

I visited the Murphys’ store on Main Street.

Rule: To show the plural of a name that ends in s, ch, or z, add es.

Examples:

The Sanchezes will be over soon.

The Thomases moved away.

Answers to Today’s Quiz

December 12, 2007

If you don’t have the slightest idea about the quiz, click here and read the post which comes up before you continue to read this post.

  1. The snow does’nt rise any higher than the horses’ fetlocks. [more than one horse] It should be “doesn’t” since the apostrophe forms a contraction of does not.

  2. For a bus driver, complaints, fare disputes, and robberies are all part of a days work. Should be day‘s, since the work belongs to the day. It could effectively be written “all part of the work of a day.”

  3. Each day the menu features a different countries’ dish. The article “a” shows that it is only one country which has food featured on the menu. Therefore the correction “country‘s” should be made.

  4. We cleared four years accumulation of trash out of the attic; its amazing how much junk can pile up. The accumulation was of four years, and therefore years needs to be possessive: “years’ .”

  5. Booties are placed on the sled dogs feet to protect them from sharp rocks and ice. [more than one dog] Since sled dogs is plural, the apostrophe alone should be added to form “dogs’ .”

  6. Sue and Ann went to a party for a friend of theirs’. There shouldn’t be an apostrophe in this sentence. Their is already possessive, and so is theirs, so no apostrophe should be used in this case. Don’t confuse this with the contraction, “there’s” as in, “there is ice on the window.” The apostrophe in there’s takes the place of the -i and forms a contraction.

  7. Three teenage son’s can devour about as much food as four full-grown field hands. The only difference is that they dont do half as much work.“Sons,” in this sentence aren’t give possession of anything. Therefore no apostrophe is needed. However, the word “dont” actually needs an apostrophe because it is the contraction of the words “do” and “not.” The apostrophe takes the place of the -o and allows the two words to be squished together.

  8. Ethiopians’s meals were served on fermented bread. Ethiopians is plural, and therefore only requires the apostrophe to make it possessive. The correct plural form of Ethiopians is Ethiopians .

  9. Luck is an important element in a rock musicians career. Again, we are talking about only one musician, so the possession belongs to him/her. The correct possessive form of ONE musician is musician‘s.

  10. My sister-in-law’squilts are being shown at the Fendrick Gallery. This one is a little tricky. Sister-in-law needs to be possessive, so the correct form is sister‘s-in-law. Actually, there is nothing wrong with that sentence. If the quilts belonged to TWO or MORE in-laws, then you would need to have sisters-in-law’s, I THINK. DOES ANYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG KNOW WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY? I welcome comments and advice. I just really don’t know.

 How ’bout it?

AARP: Allowed Apostrophe Rules, Please!

December 12, 2007

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The apostrophe, or its correct use,  has been a thorn in the side for many businessmen and women who pursued a business degree rather than an English degree. Fortunately, or unfortunately, some would say, there are others in the workforce who pursued English as a discipline rather than Business Administration. It just so happens that I am one of those grammatically anal twits who cringe every time they hear or read a sentence which is not grammatically correct.

               So today, I’m going to provide you, the readers of this blog, with a “quizzie.” Don’t ask what I call tests. What I would like for you to do is to edit the following sentences and correct the errors. If the sentence is correct, just write correct. Actually, none of the sentences are correct.

  1. The snow does’nt rise any higher than the horses’ fetlocks. [more than one horse]

  2. For a bus driver, complaints, fare disputes, and robberies are all part of a days work.

  3. Each day the menu features a different countries’ dish.

  4. We cleared four years accumulation of trash out of the attic; its amazing how much junk can pile up.

  5. Booties are placed on the sled dogs feet to protect them from sharp rocks and ice. [more than one dog]

  6. Sue and Ann went to a party for a friend of theirs’.

  7. Three teenage son’s can devour about as much food as four full-grown field hands. The only difference is that they dont do half as much work.

  8. Ethiopians’s meals were served on fermented bread.

  9. Luck is an important element in a rock musicians career.

  10. My sister-in-law’s quilts are being shown at the Fendrick Gallery.

How’d you do? Were the errors pretty evident, or did you have to go back and re-read the sentences before you found them? I will post the corrected version later today, so check back!

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors: Mastering the Apostrophe

November 15, 2007

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When using The Communications Factors to brand yourself, there must be a basic understanding of grammatical rules, and especially of the apostrophe. The most basic use of the apostrophe is to form a contraction. Take for example the word cannot. Using the apostrophe it forms the word can’t. Simple enough.

Besides taking the place of omitted letters, the apostrophe is also used to show possession. The back of Mark becomes Mark’s back. Again, simple enough. But what about words like Thomas, Moses, or Jesus? Is it Thomas’s back, Moses’s Laws, or Jesus’s name? Traditional thoughts taught that if you were speaking of a proper name ending in -s with more than two syllables, you were to add only the apostrophe to show possession. Therefore, if Frances had a friend, it should be written Frances’ friend. However, the new philosophy is that it is up to the individual person. This means if Thomas prefers to have people call them Thomas’s English Muffins, then that’s what it should be.

The 2007 AP Stylebook states that with singular proper names ending in S, only an apostrophe is appropriate: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Ceres’ rites, Dickens’ Novels, etc…

So when writing about the works of Charles Dickens, make sure you make it Dickens’ works and not Dickens’s. If someone corrects you, affect your snobbiest accent and say, “Actually, the AP Stylebook argues otherwise, my friend.” Check out this link to fully appreciate the meanings of punctuation marks!

An Exception:

The most troublesome use of the apostrophe is regarding the word IT. To show possession, write its without the apostrophe: its bowl, its seat, its bed, etc. The addition of an apostrophe to the word its,completely changes the word and thereby shows that you have not yet mastered the rules of grammar. Remember that the apostrophe allows for the omission of letters? When it is followed by an apostrophe s, it can be read it is! So if you’re writing about the dog’s bowl, you should write its bowl, and not it’s bowl.

Making this heinous error could cost you the respect of your peers or worse, of business colleagues.

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors. Are You Published?

October 2, 2007

When someone makes the claim of writing as his/her profession, the first questions which springs to the minds of those who aren’t in the business is, “Are you published? What have you written?”

Posing such a question doesn’t make you appear to be well-read, or even interested; it only shows that you don’t know as much as you think you do. The Miriam-Webster On-line dictionary defines publish this way:

1 a : to make generally known b : to make public announcement of;
2 a : to disseminate to the public b : to produce or release for distribution;

So anyone who writes a blog, prints a poem, or uses a “vanity press” to print his book is actually “published.” The question now becomes, why are you published? Even the occasional blogger who only posts something once a quarter (financial, not football) is technically “published.”

Are we, as human-beings, placing ourselves into published garbage – a world in which anyone with computer and a credit-card can write a book, whether it has value or not? A visit to YouTube shows that very little thought goes into the production of many videos. Some are very well-crafted, with graphics, voice-overs and music, but others look like the “publisher” just was bored and had too much time on his hands.

Since I know more about writing and the English language than I do about production of video, I will focus on print media, both on-line and off.

Why do so many people, as evidenced by the the number of blogs and blog-hosting sites, think that they need to express what is in their heads? I am thoroughly amazed by the sytles and content of the majority of blogs and the individual posts.

Many, many times, I’ve seen that sometimes the blog writer doesn’t know the first thing about grammatical rules or punctuation. I understand that typos do happen, even to the best of us. However, when there’s a clear misspelling of the word its, as in, “it is,” that’s totally unacceptable. Not knowing the difference between its, and it’s, is the sign that you should spend less time on video games and more time with an English book.

And just because you have the thought, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be said or written, much less broadcast to the whole world! “Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re stupid, than saying (or writing) something removing all doubt.”

How ’bout it?