I have been writing a lot about apostrophes and possessive forms lately, so it was fun to read Raymond Ward's post that brought me to Nicole Stockdale's October 18 post on a recent US Supreme Court ruling. For all who worry about using s's and s' inconsistently, not even the...
Paula, an executive assistant, wrote to ask me to continue the discussion of apostrophes. She wants to know why boss's has an apostrophe and an s but Chris' has only an apostrophe. The truth is that Chris takes just an apostrophe only if you follow the rules in the...
I just received an email from Heather, who is desperate to understand correct apostrophe use for possessives. Relax, Heather. It isn't as tricky as it seems. We can cover the basics in just four simple rules. 1. Generally, we do not use apostrophes to make a plural (that is, to...
Rita sent a great question today. She wanted to know the correct way to make combined titles plural when using a slash. Is it singer/producers? Or singers/producers? Singer/songwriters? Or singers/songwriters? The answer is this: Make it plural just once--not twice. These are correct:Singer/songwriters: Both singer/songwriters received a Grammy. Singer/producers: It's...
In the United States, today is National Punctuation Day. I almost missed it. Nevertheless, I did use dozens of periods (full stops), many commas, several colons, a few dashes, and even a semicolon in a piece I wrote this afternoon. How about you? Did you write today? If so,...
Doubts about hyphens drive people nuts. In my business writing classes, people regularly raise anxious questions about hyphen/no hyphen and word open/word closed. I just got an email from a client who had three hyphen questions, so I am inspired to supply some Hyphenation Information. (I capitalized and bolded...
We deal with email addresses and website addresses (URLs) every day, but how should we render them in sentences? Stuart, a reprographics officer in Dorset, England, suggested I write on this topic. It is an excellent idea, and I am happy to offer guidance. Here are guidelines on how...
A friend of mine asked me to write about how to choose the correct form of its, and I am happy to comply. Those three little letters cause a lot of confusion, but once you master a couple of basic rules, the choice becomes simple. Here goes: Its' is...
If you use other people's business writing as models, you may wonder whether it is acceptable to use double or triple question marks and exclamation marks. After all, you have probably seen examples like this one: I love the new offices!!! Is it acceptable to use two, three, or more...
One of the most common questions in any of our classes is this:When is the phrase follow up hyphenated? One of the reasons this punctuation question is so commonly asked is that many dictionaries are no help at all. They simply list both versions: follow-up and follow up. I...