D L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 10917 posts, RR: 52 Posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2678 times:
The apostrophe -- like a comma in the sky. When in doubt, leave it out!
Yet the English written language has been trampled in the last few years on both sides of the pond by people who have taken to pluralizing everything by adding apostrophe-ess on the end (like this: car's). I know, it's an easy mistake to make, and one that I've caught myself on more than once. But it must be stopped, or correct written style will be lost for good as more and more people begin to believe that it is actually correct. It's one thing to mispell a word, or make a typo. Big deal. It's another thing to mistake "its" for "it's". The first one means "possessed by it" while the second one means "it is", but again, big deal. But I've recently seen people even using apostrophe-ess just because the word ended with an ess, such as writing "len's". Who is len? Len is nobody. The person meant to say "lens" -- that glass thing on the end of your camera. I think internet message boards like this one are chiefly to blame for the proliferation of apostrophe-ess abuse.
Put simply, apostrophe-ess is only used for possession and contractions of "is". It is not used for pluralization unless pluralizing a number or acronym. ("ABC's" and "123's", but not "letter's" and "number's".)
I personally think this should be one of our top priorities for the English-speaking world:
1) World peace
2) cure for cancer and AIDS (not AID'S!!)
3) find a more environmentally friendly energy source
4) rid the world of apostrophe-ess abuse.
5) BCS playoff
Before you say it, yes, I know this is a silly rant that will probably do nothing. But I'm in a ranting mood.
Klaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21353 posts, RR: 54
Reply 1, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2653 times:
Quoting D L X (Thread starter): I think internet message boards like this one are chiefly to blame for the proliferation of apostrophe-ess abuse.
Not really... They only expose the fact that most people know little about and have no interest in their own written language.
And it's by no means limited to the english language - you can see any number of apostrophe catastrophies in Germany as well. And the poor thing is ruthlessly abused in a few more languages beyond, I suspect...!
Baroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 60
Reply 3, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2627 times:
Sympathies. However, spelling worries me more than floating and illegal apostrophes. There are not too many cases where an incorrect apostrophe changes the meaning, whereas quite a few spelling errors do send you off in the wrong direction. My Email system (Pegasus) has a strange habit with apostrophes when saving files to disk so I try to avoid using them to reduce the number of strange symbols appearing in the archived material. The latest versions try to foil me by adding them to contractions such as don't.
MEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4257 posts, RR: 35
Reply 4, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2614 times:
I am not a native speaker but I see things which hurt my eyes a lot on Airliners.net lately, is it Airtrans future or Airtran's future. I'd say Airtrans, it is not Airtran is future but the His future, Airtrans.
The same rant about "Northwest retiring there 747-200s"
I wonder why me as non native speaker immeditately see it should be "their" but apparent native speakers don't???
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
Kaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12291 posts, RR: 35
Reply 6, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2582 times:
I agree; it is something that bugs me; people should be careful how they express themselves. It says something about them; bad use of grammar conveys a laziness which in fairness may not always be the case (you'll find engineers, mathematicians, doctors etc with poor grammar and spelling), but it's so much easier to get it right.
The one thing I sometimes have difficulty with is the possessive where the word ends in an "s" - for example, Qantas' new fleet, or the Andrews' new car etc.
I know that "Qantas' " sounds better, but is it necessarily correct?
UAL747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2576 times:
The only thing I really hate is when someone uses, "it's" for posession, and "its" for "it is." I realize that this can kind of be ironic that posessive form of "its" does not use an apostrophe when using the word "it" because we tend to use apostrophes to show posession.
It's (It is). "It's my duty to tell you how to use an apostrophe."
Its (posessive). "Its engine came off the pylon during flight."
Or this: "There are many Boeing 777's."
Rather it is supposed to be, "There are many Boeing 777s"
(Though admittedly, I'm guilty of using the ( ' ) when referring to plural aircraft).
N229NW From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 1904 posts, RR: 33
Reply 10, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2540 times:
The one that slightly annoys me is people using "I" when they should use "me"--it annoys me because they do it to sound "correct"/pretentious, but don't realize it is actually wrong:
e.g. "This is a picture of my dog and I" (It's a picture of ME, not a picture of I, hence it's a picture of my dog and ME, etc.). Or "Just between you and I" (should be "me," object of the preposition between) It's funniest when people actually mix subjective and objective case with two prepositions: "him and I" etc. Yuck.
Edit: Meh, I just realized I went and wasted my 1000th post being a grammar nazi...
Perhaps in England, and I wish the rule in America were standardized. But unfortunately, there are many newspapers which accept both 777s and 777's to mean "more than one 777", in ADDITION to "777's" meaning "of the 777". That exception only applies to numbers and acronyms though (thankfully!!), and NEVER to any other form of pluralization.
UAL747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2526 times:
English grammar is one of the hardest out there I think. There are SOOO many exceptions to the rule that most people who speak English, never really know how. I'm always guilty of one grammar mistake or another. Because native speakers never really study English as intently as foreigners do, often times people who know English as a second language will understand our grammar much more than the native speaker. And, don't forget colloquialisms. The south, where I am from, is well known for its colloquialisms.
Alrighty y'all, I'm fixin' to get some supper. I'll catch y'all later. Though I might be goin' to N'awlins at the end of the week. Even though I've been travellin' for a long time, I feel like I've been rode hard and put away wet. Myyyy Laaands! (Double syllables for single syllable words where applicable)
Klaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21353 posts, RR: 54
Reply 17, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2485 times:
Quoting D L X (Reply 2): Didn't know that, because English is the only language that I speak or write that uses apostrophes. (No apostrophes in Japanese!)
They have their rightful place in german as well... unfortunately most people have no clue where that is - and the horrible misuse of anglicisms in german is one of the main sources of the ubiquitous apostrophe catastrophe...
Quoting D L X (Reply 2): Also, I should say that if English is not your main language, this post wasn't aimed at you.
As a member of this forum it's just as fingernails-on-blackboard to me as it would be for most native speakers. Although the inevitable would of and there/their/they're is right up there with it...!
Quoting UAL747 (Reply 13): English grammar is one of the hardest out there I think.
Dougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days ago) and read 2423 times:
Think that's bad?
Here's a little item I pass out to my students. It came out about a year ago. I put it under the heading of "What's a comma worth these days?"
Comma quirk irks Rogers
From Monday's Globe and Mail
It could be the most costly piece of punctuation in Canada.
A grammatical blunder may force Rogers Communications Inc. to pay an extra $2.13-million to use utility poles in the Maritimes after the placement of a comma in a contract permitted the deal's cancellation.
The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.
Rogers thought it had a five-year deal with Aliant Inc. to string Rogers' cable lines across thousands of utility poles in the Maritimes for an annual fee of $9.60 per pole. But early last year, Rogers was informed that the contract was being cancelled and the rates were going up. Impossible, Rogers thought, since its contract was iron-clad until the spring of 2007 and could potentially be renewed for another five years.
Armed with the rules of grammar and punctuation, Aliant disagreed. The construction of a single sentence in the 14-page contract allowed the entire deal to be scrapped with only one-year's notice, the company argued.
Language buffs take note — Page 7 of the contract states: The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
Rogers' intent in 2002 was to lock into a long-term deal of at least five years. But when regulators with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) parsed the wording, they reached another conclusion.
The validity of the contract and the millions of dollars at stake all came down to one point — the second comma in the sentence.
Had it not been there, the right to cancel wouldn't have applied to the first five years of the contract and Rogers would be protected from the higher rates it now faces.
“Based on the rules of punctuation,” the comma in question “allows for the termination of the [contract] at any time, without cause, upon one-year's written notice,” the regulator said.
Rogers was dumbfounded. The company said it never would have signed a contract to use roughly 91,000 utility poles that could be cancelled on such short notice. Its lawyers tried in vain to argue the intent of the deal trumped the significance of a comma. “This is clearly not what the parties intended,” Rogers said in a letter to the CRTC.
But the CRTC disagreed. And the consequences are significant.
The contract would have shielded Rogers from rate increases that will see its costs jump as high as $28.05 per pole. Instead, the company will likely end up paying about $2.13-million more than expected, based on rough calculations.
Despite the victory, Aliant won't reap the bulk of the proceeds. The poles are mostly owned by Fredericton-based utility NB Power, which contracted out the administration of the business to Aliant at the time the contract was signed.
Neither Rogers nor Aliant could be reached for comment on the ruling. In one of several letters to the CRTC, Aliant called the matter “a basic rule of punctuation,” taking a swipe at Rogers' assertion that the comma could be ignored.
“This is a classic case of where the placement of a comma has great importance,” Aliant said.
D L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 10917 posts, RR: 52
Reply 22, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days ago) and read 2410 times:
Quoting Dougloid (Reply 21): The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.
Actually, I think that case is a load of bull -- the question in contract is never "what exactly did it say" so much as it is "what exactly did the parties expect it to mean." (FWIW, I think Rogers is 100% correct.)
In any event, if you're talking about something that sends regulators to textbooks to find an esoteric rule, it's not nearly as important as getting the apostrophe right, since you use it every day.
I'm heartened though, because it hasn't appeared incorrect one time on this thread, except for the person that was clearly intending to misuse it to show his point.
Fumanchewd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (6 years 7 months 2 days ago) and read 2405 times:
Language is a constantly changing entity. The first "dictionaries" weren't dictionaries but in fact spelling guides. In the English language there were many accepted ways to spell one word and grammar was non existent. For that matter punctuation was non existent as well. The only thing that really mattered was transmitting and communicating information. The Greeks and other societies wrote their philologies using various systems of punctuation to assist oration. When English printing initiated in the 15th century William Caxton used punctuation marks to make the light and illegible print easier to read. He used the "/" for word groupings, the ":" for pauses, and the "." for ending sentences and brief pauses. His idea worked for some and was ignored by some. It wasn't until the 17th century that some sort of punctuation dogma came into being. That said, this dogma has always been changing. Whether because of cultural, governmental, or scholastic changes, the rules of grammar have never been the same and never will stay stagnant.
I took a university class in linguistics a few years back and we spent several weeks reviewing the assiduous changes that have been happening to all languages since the beginning of time. We noted how most have their conservative backers grabbing onto the rules and semantics that they were taught. They refuse to be dragged with the times and instead stay in place with the disappearing past. The same could be said for grammar.
i have always enjoyed the image of jack kerouac hunched over his typewriter with page after page taped together just pounding out word after word in a mad dash of hope and ideas a poetry of thought with no punctuation or form just a splaying of ideas communicating ideas
That being said, I have no idea why people are so intent on preserving the so called "sanctity" of language and grammar. It has its place. Bad grammar at work is unacceptable. As for the rest I could care less. Maybe if people spent as much time thinking about what they are saying instead of their image then their words might be worth reading-good grammar or not.
Allstarflyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (6 years 7 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2395 times:
Quoting D L X (Reply 2): Didn't know that, because English is the only language that I speak or write that uses apostrophes.
Doesn't Russian use apostrophes?
Quoting D L X (Reply 9): Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Never end a phrase with a preposition.
I think that's a silly rule.
Even with that Churchill quote (which seems to be tongue-in-cheek), it's lazy, at best, to end a sentence with a preposition. I've done it, though, even recently, though I still try to find ways to bring the preposition to a point earlier in the sentence, or, if I must, restructure the sentence in a sensible way so that the grammatical usage is accurate.
Quoting N229NW (Reply 10): The one that slightly annoys me is people using "I" when they should use "me"--it annoys me because they do it to sound "correct"/pretentious, but don't realize it is actually wrong:
Same here - I don't like it when people say things like "me and my brother", instead of "my brother and I", etc.