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Sunday, January 13, 2008


Pity the poor apostrophe. It is abused, misplaced, misunderstood, and unloved.

Washington Post, January 13, 2008, furniture ad: Sofa's, dinette's 50% off!
CBS, January 12, 2008, playoff game between Green Bay and Seattle: Favres' Stats
MSNBC, January 5, 2008: Iowa Caucus Voter's Give Obama the Lead

Is it that "sofas" or "dinettes" just doesn't look right ? Is that it, snookie? Well TOO BAD--the plural of sofa is sofas. The plural of dinette is dinettes. Unless I am completely misunderstanding and some copy is missing, i.e., the object that the sofa or the dinette possesses (the sofa's arms, perhaps), the apostrophe has no place in this home.

Now, as to Mr. Favre: although his performance in the game might have led some to think that there are two of him, in point of fact he is singular (in more ways than one) and therefore the apostrophe goes before the "s," not after.

And so to Iowa, where one busy bee apparently voted 82,536 times.

The plural of a singular noun adds just a plain old "s" (sofa/sofas, dinette/dinettes, giraffe/giraffes, voter/voters); singular nouns that end in "s" or "ss" (arras, compass, Adams) take "es" (arrases, compasses, Adamses [NOT, please God, Adam's]). No apostrophes. Ever.

A singular noun takes an apostrophe and "s" to indicate possession: Favre's stats.

A singular noun ending in "s" or "ss" also takes an apostrophe and "s" to indicate possession: arras's, compass's, Adams's (please, please not Adam's).

A plural noun takes an apostrophe after the "s" to indicate possession: voters', Adamses'.

You have not heard the last of this.


1 comment:

The Mumbler said...

Does anal rententive have a hyphen?!?