Tag Archive - apostrophes

To Apostrophe or Not—That Is the Question

Sometimes punctuation is a matter of context. Attributive vs. possessive nouns are a case in point. Is the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day, or Mothers Day?

First, a quick review of the distinction in each of those examples:

  • Mother’s Day – singular possessive
  • Mothers’ Day – plural possessive
  • Mothers Day – plural noun, attributive

Attributive nouns are nouns that are used as adjectives. In the third example, Mother, normally a noun, is used as an adjective. That makes it an attributive noun, which does not take an apostrophe. Continue Reading…

Share and Share Alike

Would you say “This is Joe’s and Sally’s car” or “This is Joe and Sally’s car”? This type of question can come up a lot in writing. The rule is that you only need the apostrophe + s after the second name if the two people share the item noted.

  • John and Mary’s marriage is on the rocks.
  • Bill and Nina’s escrow closed last week.
  • Mike and John’s team won the division.

So, conversely, if two people do not share the item or issue in question, you would need them each to have the apostrophe + s.

  • Both Frank’s and Sara’s job contracts will get renewed
  • Bob’s and Ted’s adventures went well [no, this isn’t about their joint excellent adventure].

The same idea applies to words that are plural:

  • The doctors’ and the lawyers’ conventions went well [two different conventions].
  • The actors and actresses’ show went well [they were in the same show].

Don’t get me started, though, about how I feel when I hear “Hey, mine and you guys’s car is the same!”

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Apostrophes seem to give people a hard time. I’m not sure why. I have to restrain myself when I see (which is often) an incorrect use of apostrophes on restaurant signs and in menus. Why they are so common there, I’m not sure, but it’s a good thing for all writers to memorize these rules—and they’re not hard.

What is wrong with the sentences below?

• He was selling chocolates to the participant’s.
• The Milky Way’s were a better choice.
• Vast majority of people have TV’s .
• They were a well-known group in the 1960’s.

Answer: The apostrophe is incorrectly used in place of a plural. It should be participants, Ways, TVs, and 1960s. Continue Reading…

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