Mens and Womens Glasses?

I stopped by a "vision center" today to get my eyeglasses fixed. While waiting, I noticed the signs above the eyeglass frame displays. They said "Mens" and "Womens."

Maybe the apostrophes just wouldn't fit on the signs, which should have said "Men's" and "Women's." Or maybe the signmaker didn't have apostrophes.

Here's an illustration of why the signs needed apostrophes:

Man = singular noun
Woman = singular noun

Men = plural noun
Women = plural noun

Man's  = singular posssessive (that man's glasses)
Woman's = singular possessive (that woman's glasses)

Men's = plural possessive (many men's glasses)
Women's = plural possessive (two women's glasses)

Mens = incorrect word
Womens = incorrect word

If you are having a sign made, make sure your signmaker uses apostrophes for possessive forms. Or try this approach: "Frames for Men" and  "Frames for Women."

You may be wondering whether I mentioned the missing apostrophes to the staff at the vision center. No, I don't want to be rude. If they had asked, of course, I would have shared the rules.

Syntax Training 

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

6 comments on “Mens and Womens Glasses?”

  • As a self-appointed apostrophe cop, I concluded long ago that signwriters are wilfully ignorant of apostrophes.

    Down under, our streets are plastered with myriad signs for “DVD’s”, “CD’s”, “TV’s”, “hamburger’s” and so on. It’s rare to find a missing apostrophe, because Australian signwriters are keen to insert them before every “s”.

    Of course, a non-confrontational approach to apostrophes is to carry a pad of Post-it notes around with you and apply a correction when you see an error! 🙂

  • Willfully ignorant is overstating it. Sign makers suffer the same level of grammatical challenges as the rest of the population. Problem is, their mistakes are announced to the world on the side of the highway.

    Thank you, Lynn, for that clarification. Apostrophes seem so simple, but appear to flummox even the best of us.

  • Thank you for weighing in on the subject, Terry, Paula, and Halley.

    Terry, it must be frustrating to see all those apostrophes where they shouldn’t be. I am not seeing as many of them as I used to.

    Paula, thank you for reminding us that signmakers are just like the rest of us, but their work is exposed for all to see. With this blog, I find that my work gets the same scrutiny as yours in the sign business.

    Halley, I’m glad you found the examples helpful.


  • You thought I was joking, didn’t you, Lynn?

    I spied the following on the back of a cabinetmaker’s van in front of me this morning as I drove to Wage-slave Central:

    Kitchens, Bathrooms, Wardrobes, Bars, Laundry’s

    Did the signwriter get bored at the end, do you think?



  • Hi, Terry. Weird! I guess the signwriter forgot the spelling “laundries.”

    Thanks for sharing.


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