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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Random apostrophization strikes again! | Catherine Soanes, OxfordWords blog

men's pant's ...

See the problem there? One apostrophe used correctly ... and one apostrophe used where it doesn't belong?


Soanes begins her blog post with that example and continues by describing how to resist the "plague of 'apostroflies.'"

She writes:
Belief in the correct use of apostrophes is not just the pedantic stance of grammatical ‘sticklers’: apart from producing meaningless words like pant’s in the first example above, the placement of the apostrophe can actually change the meaning of a word or sentence.
Soanes explains that misuse of the apostrophe, especially when it's inserted before the final ‘s’ of an ordinary plural form, is often called a greengrocer’s (or a grocer’s) apostrophe--in England, I presume; I haven't heard it used in the United States. 

She writes:
This description stems from the fact that greengrocers were regarded as being particularly prone to this error when pricing their produce – we've probably all winced at signs that say ‘apple’s 80p per pound’. However, it’s unfair to single out one type of retailer, or even retailers in general, for such mistakes – unfortunately they crop up wherever writing is to be found.
Soanes provides several Web links with more advice on using apostrophes. You also can get my advice about apostrophes at Garbl's Editorial Style Manual.
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Soanes' blog is featured today, Jan. 30, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style  Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.


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