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Picture of Kalleh
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I know...how many times can one board discuss the lowly apostrophe? Sorry, but this question came up today.

I publish a newsletter where I ask for others' submissions. I read for content, but not for grammar and punctuation; that is the job of our editors. I read one article and knew that my editor was going to have a stroke, as any peevologist would. Sure enough. He was particularly struck by the plural for RN, which was RN's. He thought they could be taken as possessives, but of course they couldn't if you considered the context.

While I'd not use an apostrophe like that, I said I had thought some "authorities" sanctioned using an apostrophe with plural abbreviations (such as RN or LPN). He said he'd "love to see that authority." I thought I might have seen that here. For example, you might say, "He watched his p's and q's." Or is that not the same? Is the editor correct?
 
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language:
quote:
Although this practice is rare in 20c standard usage, the apostrophe of plurality continues in at least five areas: (1) With abbreviations such as V.I.P.'s or VIP's, although forms such as VIPs are now widespread. (2) With letters of the alphabet, as in His i's are just like his a's and Dot your i's and cross your t's. In the phrase do's and don'ts, the apostrophe of plurality occurs in the first word but not the second, which has the apostrophe of omission: by and large, the use of two apostrophes close together (as in don't's) is avoided. (3) In decade dates, such as the 1980's, although such apostrophe-free forms as the 1980s are widespread, as are such truncations as the '80s, the form the '80's being unlikely. (4) In family names, especially if they end in -s, as in keeping up with the Jones's, as opposed to the Joneses, a form that is also common. (5) In the non-standard (‘illiterate’) use often called in BrE the greengrocer's apostrophe, as in apple's 55p per 1b and We sell the original shepherds pie's (notice in a shop window, Canterbury, England).


MWDEU:
quote:
The apostrophe is sometimes used with -s to form the plural of letters, numerals, abbreviations, symbols and words used as words.
 
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Picture of Richard English
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I would only use the apostrophe in plurals when its omission might cause confusion. There are only a few such instances, for example:

"There are 6 i's and 2 u's in the above sentence". Without the apostrophe the meaning is completely changed.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Without the apostrophe the meaning is completely changed.

In fact, "There are 6 is and 2 us in the above sentence" is total nonsense; the meaning isn't just changed.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Well, it's surely changed - from meaning to nonsense Wink


Richard English
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
I would only use the apostrophe in plurals when its omission might cause confusion.
Me, too, Richard. However, I wanted an authority for this peevologist. Goofy posted two! Thanks, goofy.

Do you know what the funny part is? This peevologist reminds me a bit of EB White because I've seen some of his writing contain the same "errors" that he rants and raves about! His biggest pet peeve is sentences that end with a preposition. Once I found one of his that did, and I was naughty and circled it with a "tsk! tsk!," just on my draft, not thinking he'd see it. Sure enough, he happened upon it as he was in my office and it was on my desk. He wasn't amused. Roll Eyes
 
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Sure enough, he happened upon it as he was in my office and it was on my desk. He wasn't amused. Roll Eyes

So, not only is his grammar at fault, so is his sense of humour!


Richard English
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Well, I probably shouldn't have done that. It's just that his holier than thou attitude about grammar/punctuation irritates me.
 
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Hey, guess how many times we have mentioned the word apostrophe on this site? 553! Aren't we anal? Roll Eyes

Anyhow, I thought this was funny.
 
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Picture of Richard English
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Hey, guess how many times we have mentioned the word apostrophe on this site? 553! Aren't we anal? Roll Eyes

Anyhow, I thought this was funny.

In a way I am less annoyed annoyed about the errors of the person writing the signs than the overall culture and climate in the organisation that allows such egregious errors to pass unnoticed. It make me wonder just how competently done would be the "sale's repair's and service's" in the second example.


Richard English
 
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