cj Sez: How to properly use an apostrophe in some plurals has always plagued me, especially when input from critique readers challenges me.
I always have to get on the Internet and search for
verification, so I decided to go to THE source for writers: The Chicago Manual of Style. I thought I'd share some of my findings with you.
A Google search for how to use apostrophes gave me the following excerpts of questions from wordsmiths and answers provided by a CMOS correspondent:
Q. My boyfriend and
I are having a battle royal over the use of apostrophes in plural names. In his
PhD dissertation he repeatedly refers to a family by the name of Wallace. When
he refers to them in the plural, he insists that the correct form is “the
Wallace’s,” which seems entirely incorrect to me. I hold that it should be “the
Wallaces,” just like “the McDonalds” or “the McPartlands” or “the DeVitos.” He
is backing up his position with the example “the G.I.s,” which he insists
should be pluralized as “the G.I.’s.” Please help. This is ruining our dinner
A. Usually in such arguments, the woman
is right. Yours is no exception. The plural of names of persons and other
capitalized nouns is usually formed with the addition
of s or es. An apostrophe is never used to form the plural
of family names. Write “the Wallaces,” “the Joneses,” the “Jordans,” etc. See
paragraph 7.8 of the sixteenth edition of CMOS for the full statement
of the applicable rule. As for G.I., Chicago style is GI (no periods), the
plural of which we write as GIs. See 10.4 and 7.14.
Shame on this school.
Correct plural is Veterans!!
Possessives and Attributives
Q. When indicating possession of a word that ends in s, is it correct to repeat the s after using an apostrophe? For example, which is correct: “Dickens’ novel” or “Dickens’s novel”?
A. Either is correct, though we prefer the latter. Please consult 7.15–18 for a full discussion of the rules for forming the possessive of proper nouns. For a discussion of the alternative practice of simply adding an apostrophe to form the possessive of proper nouns ending in s, see paragraph 7.21.
Q. I have suddenly become an editor and am having trouble on a daily basis with the numeric use of decades. First, is “the 90s” or “the ’90s” correct? We often see the apostrophe omitted these days. Next, if a sentence contains the phrase, “Perhaps the 70s best director . . .” (meaning, the best director of that decade), “70s” is both plural and possessive. Should it be “70’s”? “70s’”? Other than reconstructing the sentence, what’s an editor to do?
A. Strictly speaking, ’90s, with the apostrophe, is correct.
"The ’70s’ finest director was Martin Scorsese, particularly for his work on Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver."
Note the apostrophes, both of them. You are always free to write “seventies’ finest.” Or, “The finest director of the ’70s was assuredly Francis Ford Coppola, for his work on the first two Godfather films and Apocalypse Now.”
cj Sez: By the by, instead of popping for $50+ dollars to buy The Chicago Manual of Style, it may be available to use for free at your local library…it is in mine.
And FYI, The Associated Press Stylebook used by journalists has different rules.
Hope you found a nugget in this post that you can use.
That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety during these uncertain times.
No inflation here!! The ebooks of THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting thrillers, are now low-priced at $2.99.
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