5/18/10

Writing Tip Tuesday: Possessive ['s]

Great to see someone else picking up on this! However, there's something else that bothers me more, and that's the mis-use of the 's. Because it's sweeping across English-speaking countries, it's even becoming prevalent here in Germany! There's a shop not too far from where I live that proudly proclaims "Beauty and Nail's." Ugh! And recently, I'm sure I saw this line on the internet somewhere: "Who want's to be a millionaire?" Holy flying cowpats!

Can you do a Writing Tip Tuesday about this? Help them, LDS Publisher, you're their only hope! ;-)


I have been guilty of adding or omitting the apostrophe—not because I don't know better but because I'm typing too fast or my software does an auto-fix and guesses wrong.

However, on signage? NO EXCUSE!

The 's shows possession.

Example: Melanie's comment was dead on.


If the word is plural, there is no apostrophe.

Example: Beauty and Nails.


There are some exceptions, for example, its vs it's. The possessive its has no apostrophe. The apostrophe is only used in the contraction for it is.

Example: Its problem is that it's confusing.

15 comments:

T.J. said...

I wrote concerning the difference between "its" and "it's" on my blog a little while ago. I went through a logical reason why the possessive is "its" when most possessives follow a different pattern. You can read it here: http://timtypes.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/its-or-its/

brendajean said...

Thank you. It's cleared up for me now. :)

Amanda said...

I read that pronouns do not use aprostrophes and other than that the apostrophe is used to show possession. I also read that it is a style choice when writing indicating the plural of CDs. You can write CD's. The apostrophe S can get a bit confusing at times. I notice that I use it on accident something when writing fast myself.

Jon Spell said...

I've read that the rule of thumb on using it with acronyms (Like CDs or CD's) is to use whichever one makes it clearer, particularly where it makes a legitimate word if you don't, um, apostrophize it.

Consider:

We said our Hellos and His.

And we can't have a topic like this without referencing this authoritative ;) work:

The Girl's Like Spaghetti

Kessee said...

And if a proper name ends in an 's' how would you show possession?

A) Jame's pen.
B) James' pen.
C) James's pen.

I am going with B) so far.

Melanie J said...

My comments usually are.

Marny said...

This especially drives me nuts in relation to years: write 1800s, not 1800's. (It's the same principle: plural or possessive?)

Kessee: Either B or C is correct, just be consistent. The only time A is correct is if his name is Jame. :) The Chicago Manual of Style has a good discussion of rules and exceptions at 7.17-23.

Kessee said...

A day or so late reply.

Marny, fantastic, thank you.

Elizabeth Morgan said...

Thanks for the writing tip. It was really helpful.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Feather said...

Oh man, that example through me for loop there for a bit. I had to read it more than once.

Anyway, that would definitely bug me seeing a sign that said 'Beauty and Nail's.' It bugs me just thinking about it. I'd be very tempted to sneak out at night and paint over the apotrophe. :)

msdarcy said...

Thanks for the clarification. It's something we all should know, but often forget.

Elizabeth Morgan said...

Thanks for clarification. This is often a confusing spot in writing.

Melanie Goldmund said...

LDSP, are you still alive?

*holds a delicious pot of homemade chicken soup and a small but tasteful funeral wreath behind her back, ready to pull out the appropriate one depending on the answer*

Amanda said...

I must have been writing fast because I'm sure my "something" should be "sometimes." I need to reread my comments before I send them.