Subject: Re: plurals vs. apostrophes (Revision)
To: Greg A. Woods <>
From: Bruce Anderson <>
List: current-users
Date: 07/30/2000 09:21:34
I omitted the note dealing with plural nouns after subsection three.
My apology to all of you reading this. BA-

Last revision July 30, 2000. BA-

... Examples omitted.
 "The Apostrophe" (Warriner 603)

"Use an apostrophe to form the possessive
case of nouns and indefinite pronouns and to
indicate the omission of letters in a contraction.
Do not use an apostrophe to form the
possessive case of personal pronouns."


"(1) To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add
an apostrophe and an s."
 "In words of more than one syllable which end in
an s-sound, it is permissible to form the singular
possessive by adding the apostrophe without the s.
This is done to avoid too many s-sounds."
"(2) To form the possessive case of a plural noun not
ending in s, add an apostrophe and an s."
"(3) To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending
in s, add the apostrophe only."
 "Note: Do not use the apostrophe to form the plural of a


"(4) The indefinite pronouns one, everyone, everybody,
etc, form their possessive case in the same way as
 "Note the correct form of such words when used with else:
everyone else's; somebody else's. Note there is no apostrophe
in oneself."
"(5) Personal pronouns in the possessive case (his, hers,
its, ours, yours, theirs, whose) do not require an

"(6) In compound (hyphenated) words, names of business
firms, and words showing joint possession, only the
last word is possessive in form."
"(7) When two or more persons possess something
individually, each of their names is possessive in

"(8) The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year,
etc., when used as possessive adjectives, require an
apostrophe. Words indicating amount in cents or
dollars, when used as possessive adjectives, require

"(9) Use an apostrophe to indicate where letters have
been omitted in a contraction. A contraction is a
word made up of two words combined into one by
omitting one or more letters."
"Note: The most common error in the use of the apostrophe
in a contraction (except the failure to use it
at all) comes from the confusion of  it's,  which means
it is,  with the possessive form  its (its appearance),
which has no apostrophe.  Another common error,
probably the result of carelessness, is the insertion of
the apostrophe in the wrong place:  ca'nt  for  can't,
does'nt for doesn't, etc. Also note especially that  let's
 in such an expression as  "Let's go!"  is a contraction
of  let us  and requires an apostrophe for the omitted  u."

"Use the apostrophe and s to form the plural
of letters, numbers, and signs, and of words
referred to as words."  

Note: They mean digit where it refers to 'numbers' in the above. BA-

              Work Cited
Warriner, John E., and Griffith, Francis. Punctuation: English
     Grammar and Composition Complete course. USA:Harcourt,
     Brace & World, Inc., 1957.

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On Wed, Jul 26, 2000 2:32 PM, Greg A. Woods <> wrote:
>[ On Wednesday, July 26, 2000 at 12:40:01 (-0500), Erich T. Enke wrote: ]
>> Subject: Re: plurals vs. apostrophes
>> I thought it might be from words that normally don't have plurals, such
>> computer acronyms.  When someone comes across MTA for instance, how does
>> one pluralize it?  MTAs doesn't look right to some people because of the
>> change in case, MTAS is equally bad because the S appears to be part of
>> the acronym.  So MTA's is introduced, giving a spacer between the
>> and the pluralizing s.
>IMNSHO the correct plural is indeed:  MTAs
>To heck with the visual impact of the case difference.  Why the
>upper-case display of such acronyms is visually jarring in the first
>place (at least to those unlike myself who have such sensitivities :-),
>so why worry about the 's'!?!?!?!
>In any case the use of an apostrophe for pluralisation is wrong and it's
>not just visually ugly but it's also semantically wrong.  It does imply
>posession and such incorrect usage leads to unnecessary difficulty for
>the reader.
>The only time the apostrophe rule is ever broken, to the best of my
>knowledge, is in "its" and "it's".
>Now, just to clarify, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of
>the English Language, Unabridged (but publised in America by Americans)
>    15.1 nouns formed from abbreviations.
>    Abbreviations formed by literation and used as nouns add either
>    appostrophe and -s or MORE [emphasis mine] often just -s.
>and they then go on to show some examples with both alternates:
>                   GI's
>        GI    --{
>                   GIs
>                   G.I.'s
>        G.I.  --{
>                   G.I.s
>                   IQ's
>        IQ    --{
>                   IQs
>                   Ph.D.'s
>        Ph.D. --{
>                   Ph.D.s
>Note that from a logical point of view (though I'm not trying to argue
>that English is a logical language!) the lower-case 's' suffix helps in
>the case of abbreviations that end in 'S' too (though not with the
>pronunciation of course! ;-).
>I paged through my copy of The Oxford English Reference Dictionary (2nd
>ed., 1996), which only gives plural forms when the are non-standard,
>hoping to find an abbreviation, but of those I found none would
>ordinarily be used in their plural sense.  This leads me to believe they
>follow the more common use described by Webster's and simply append a
>lower-case 's' character to form the plural of an abbreviation used as a
>							Greg A. Woods
>+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <>      <robohack!woods>
>Planix, Inc. <>; Secrets of the Weird <>