I visited beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, last week and loved everything about it–except perhaps for its free-spirited use and avoidance of apostrophes. Its businesses’ signs kept my writing teacher’s mind spinning.
Here’s a challenge for you: See if you can determine which of the signs are punctuated according to current writing standards. When you find one that is not correct, decide how you would change it if its owner would let you.
Can you tell why I went sign-crazy in Whistler? Which ones would you change? See my comments below.
1. Ingrid’s–I love you! All your signs were consistent and correct. Ingrid is a singular noun, so its possessive form is Ingrid’s.
2. St. Andrews House–what happened? Why did you choose to leave out the apostrophe? The traditional rendering is St. Andrew’s.
3. Like St. Andrews, the cigar store needs an apostrophe: Castro’s.
4. I savored quite a few Rogers’ chocolates, and I loved their sign. Rogers’ is correct. Although some style manuals would recommend Rogers’s, that form would be too fussy on a sign.
5. Fat Tony’s has great pizza and perfect punctuation.
6. Garfinkel’s punctuated this sign correctly, but their vertical signs say Garfs (not shown). If they wanted to be consistent, they would choose Garf’s.
7. and 8. These are signs for the same establishment. Buffalo Bill’s wins for correctness.
9. I’d like to talk Earls into an apostrophe: Earl’s.
10. I’m going to interpret Cow’s cute cone as a correct apostrophe although other Cow’s signs left it out.
11. and 12. These signs are trying hard to be correct. And they both might be depending on whether we want to think of one skier or more than one. But an easier way to handle Skiers Approach and Skiers Plaza is to think of them as for skiers rather than of skiers or belonging to skiers. That way, we can avoid the possessive forms and not worry about singular and plural.
13. Shoppers Drug Mart has–correctly, I think–chosen to avoid the possessive form. This approach is what I suggested for Skiers in 11 and 12.
14. Let’s change this to Black’s Restaurant, which would match their Black’s Pub sign (not shown).
15. The creative rendering of DAVIDsTEA inspired me to watch for signs in Whistler. DAVID’S TEA would be correct but not catchy. The more I saw DAVIDsTEA rendered that way, the more it convinced me that its distinctiveness won out over conventionalism.
Do you prefer correct, conventional renderings or creative ones? And how did you do on the challenge?
I wasn’t able to visit every establishment I photographed–a great reason to return to Whistler!
Would you like to feel more confident of your punctuation? Take my online self-study course Punctuation for Professionals. The free trial allows you to decide whether the course is right for you.