Business Writing

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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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November 03, 2015

Comments

Ellen Wynkoop

THANK YOU! I can't believe the number of times I've seen apostrophes used to make plurals. Personally, it's one of my pet peeve's.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Ellen, good one! I like your peeve's.

Lynn

Cathy Miller

Very helpful, Lynn. Words that end in s can be tricky. I have read a difference of opinion when it come to adding apostrophe s. Example: Arkansas' versus Arkansas's.

If we're sharing pet peeves, mine is a bit off topic (typical):-) Example: it's versus its.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for stopping by. Arkansas' vs. Arkansas's--that's a fine topic for another day.

Your peeve is mine too. Great minds peeve alike!

Lynn

Bas Pellenaars

The owners of that store must be Dutch. We use "'s" to make expressions plural. Being a Dutchie and living in the US, this is one of the things that occasionally confuses me. Lynn, your article, as often is the case, helps me with these tiny issues and keeps me on the right grammar track.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Bas, thank you for the information. I had no idea Dutch used apostrophes to form plurals. If you see this comment, would you please write this message in Dutch:

--We write reports.

I would like to see what it looks like.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lynn

Bas Pellenaars

Hi Lynn,

We write reports.

=

Wij schrijven rapporten.

Although you could use the word report as well, I think. The Dutch are very good in incorporating English words.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Bas,

Thank you for your example. I see that the word "rapporten" does not include an apostrophe in the plural. Can you share a plural that does include an apostrophe?

I apologize for my delayed response to your comment.

Lynn

Kay Woo

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for another informative post!

This reminds me of a discussion/debate I recently had with a friend. Though it didn't address the same issues, it was also on the topic of making plurals.

The question was regarding the correct way of making the last name 'Morris' plural.

The options were:
(a) Morris';
(b) Morris's; and
(c) Morrises.

I was certain that the correct answer would be (b), but it turned out (c) was the correct answer.

It doesn't make sense to me to modify a last name.

Could you please clarify my confusion?

Kay

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Kay,

As you noticed, we do not make names plural by adding apostrophes. We add an s or es to the name:

Woos
Johnstons
Steins
Gomezes
Rosses
Foxes

If the name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, add es to form the plural. Otherwise, add just s.

When a name is difficult to pronounce with an extra syllable added--for example, Hastings as Hastingses--it's correct to drop the final syllable and refer to the people as "the Hastings."

Lynn

Kay Woo

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for your response.

If I understand correctly, the same basic rules apply for pluralizing names as those when pluralizing other nouns in English.

I'm not sure where I got the idea of not modifying proper nouns from.

Kay

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Kay,

There IS a difference between plural nouns and plural names. We often change the spelling to form the plural of common nouns. Two examples are:

candy = candies
half = halves

We do not change the spelling of names (proper nouns) when we make them plural. Mr. and Mrs. Candy are the Candys. Mr. and Mrs. Half are the Halfs.

Lynn

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