Tag Archive - punctuation tips

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…

Joint Ownership 

Let’s talk a bit about joint possession and the proper way to express this. Possession can get a bit tricky, and writers often don’t stop to think about the nuances. Take a look at this sentence:

  • We always go to my uncle and aunt’s house for the holidays.

Unless your uncle and aunt have separate homes, the sign of possession—the apostrophe—is placed with the second noun. The pair is treated as a unit; that’s  what joint ownership is, after all.

Things get a little trickier when you replace one of the nouns with a pronoun. Which is correct?

  • We’re going to him (referring to your uncle) and my aunt’s house
  • We’re going to his and my aunt’s house

Continue Reading…

Any Way You Splice It

You might know it as a run-on sentence, a fused sentence, or a comma splice. When two independent clauses—sentences that can stand on their own—are joined by only a comma, grammarians get excited.

The good news is there are four easy fixes for sentences like this one:

  • Buoyed by his boss’s glowing endorsement, Jack left early, he planned to celebrate with a trip.

Either make two separate sentences:

  • Buoyed by his boss’s glowing endorsement, Jack left early. He planned to celebrate with a trip.

Continue Reading…

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