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Is Donald Trump Wrong About “Apprenti”?

I was listening to a news show on TV tonight, when I heard Donald Trump talking about hiring 10 "apprenti." He pronounced that final word ah-PREN-tie.

It is possible that Mr. Trump believes the plural of apprentice is apprenti. If so, I am here to correct him.

But I will not do so without first checking my sources.

Too often people write to me to complain about the grammar, punctuation, and usage errors of others, when in fact, they themselves are misinformed. I do not want to fall into that trap.

That is why I looked up apprentice in three dictionaries, including the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, to be certain that apprenti is not a correct plural form. I confirmed that the plural of apprentice is apprentices–not apprenti.

The word is not like syllabus and hippopotamus, whose plurals are syllabi and syllabuses, hippopotami and hippopotamuses.

In my research I learned that apprenti is the French word for "apprentice." Maybe the French influenced Mr. Trump.

I was especially careful about correcting Mr. Trump's language because of an assumption I had made earlier today, when I was reviewing a business writing sample for an upcoming class. The sample used the term on-site. I was sure onsite was correct, but I was not sure enough to make a note without checking my dictionaries and a style guide. I learned I was wrong. On-site is correct.

Lesson learned: Before assuming someone has made an error and correcting it, be sure you yourself are correct.

What business writing rule have you been wrong about lately? Please share, and we will all learn something.

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.

9 comments on “Is Donald Trump Wrong About “Apprenti”?”

  • Hi,
    I was in a meeting and the discussion turned to how we should spell pop-up messages and dropdown menus. Is it pop up, pop-up or popup? Similarly, is it drop down, drop-down or dropdown?

  • I remember being taught to always use a comma before the word “but” – always. Mind you, I probably learned that in grade school!

    Now I know better, and only use it if the “but” sentence is an independent clause.

  • I’m delighted to read that you, as do I, check your sources before making a “pronouncement.” Takes longer to edit my clients’ work, but the rules evolve and no one is infallible. (Or is it no-one?)

  • Hi, Alan. I am traveling and away from my reference books, so I can’t advise you on your dilemma. Why not check a current style guide or dictionary for help? More than one version of your words is probably correct, so you would need to pick one and stick with it.


  • Hi, Val. Your comment reminds me of the many people who come to my writing classes believing that they must NEVER use a comma before the word “and.” It’s a challenge to help them recognize the many situations in which a comma is correct before “and.”

    As always, thanks for commenting.


  • Hi, Kathy. I hope “no one” is still correct! It’s a word I will always remember. When I went away to college and wrote home, I used to render the word “noone.” My mother made sure I would always remember the correct version.


  • I was always taught to use commas when listing items (red, blue, and green). Since I’ve entered the professional world I noticed that they omit the final comma (red, blue and green). Which way is correct?

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