Monday, December 04, 2006

To Apostrophe or Not To Apostrophe

TOSC reader David H. from Virginia Beach, Virginia, asks:

If I were to write about buying more than one compact disc I would write "I bought 17 new CDs." Is this correct? What makes me ask is that we were on I-95 today and I saw a sign that read "RV's and Trucks Welcome." The apostrophe s marks possessive, right?

The apostrophe-s does indeed denote possession. It's a rare case that an apostrophe is used for a plural, but it happens. "I got two A's and three B's on my report card" is an example of how apostrophes help to clarify the plurals of single letters. But this is an exception to the rule.

For acronyms, the standard is to pluralize them with a single s, although this standard is not particularly standard, especially among highway sign workers.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A post from our fans - a slight overuse of the apostrophe:

Guy's you know we love you, But Dave Merritt and John Newton are soooo sexy. I can't wait to see them tonight at Mahi Mah's.

Love forever and alway's (Arvind). You big stud muffin's

Thanks, Mr. Thomas!

David from Virginia Beach, Virginia

3:26 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

I have no patience for apostrophe errors, until we come to this discussion. I can see allowing apostrophes to denote plurals in the cases of single letters, acronyms and numerals. It's a case of following the strict letter of the law vs. making your copy as unambiguous as possible.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about the saying: dotting i's and crossing t's? caps or no caps for the I and T?

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