Monday, September 8, 2014

Little Bits O'Grammar #5: The Plural Possessive

This is one of my pet peeves: when people cannot figure out how to make possessives.
Let's get basic here.

Singular means one.  Singular possessive means one person or thing owning something. This is very easy 99% of the time; simply add apostrophe S ('s).
Examples: The baby's toy was broken.  (One baby owned a toy.)  The mouse's nose was pink.  (The mouse owned a nose.)
The only time this does not apply is for nouns -- names in particular -- which end in S.
In this case, it is acceptable to choose to put only an apostrophe after the final S.
Examples: At church, we heard Jesus' parables.  James' new pants were too long for him.

Plural means more than one.  Plural possessive, therefore, means more than one person or thing owning something or some things.
To make a plural possessive, first make the word plural.  If that plural ends in S, as most plurals do, simply add an apostrophe after the S.
If that plural does not end in S, then add apostrophe S ('s).
Examples: The babies' toys were broken.  (Babies ends in S, so we just add the apostrophe.)  The mice's noses were pink.  (Mice does not end in S, so we add apostrophe S.)

It's not that hard.  Yet so many people choose to ignore this and make themselves look like idiots.

This is wrong:

Dance with the witches at This Is The Place! Witches Ball Oct. 10th!

It's a ball for witches, so it is a witches' ball.

This is wrong:

"Mens" isn't even a word.

This is wrong:

Kids Fireworks Craft Using a Fork

It's a craft for kids or a kids' craft.  It needs the apostrophe.

This is wrong:

Unless only one Smith owns the place to which we are being welcomed, it should be plural possessive, not singular possessive: Welcome to the Smiths' house.

This is wrong:

Anyway, happy Father's Day to anyone who is or a has a great dad. Go give hugs.

There is more than one father to celebrate the day.  It's Fathers' Day.

It's time to face using the English language like adults and begin making correct plural possessives, folks.  Don't be scared to grow up and put on your "big kid" panties and learn the "tough" punctuation. Just think about it; someday you may even be ready to learn about semicolons!

1 comment:

  1. One of my biggest mistakes growing up was arguing with my mother that anything printed in the newspaper had to be correct. How wrong that was!