Archive for the ‘apostrophe’ Category

Press Release needs apostrophe help–twice!

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

The US National Cowboy Fast Draw Championship is being held this weekend in Pendleton, Oregon.  More than 100 gunfighters from all over the country will compete.  I didn't know we still had any of those–even out west–and under age to boot! 

A press release for this event contains two apostrophe problems.  Here is the first:

The competitor's ages range from 8 or 9 years old to 80.

 Whoops #1: AGES is plural, so it is logical to conclude that COMPETITORS should also be plural.  The process is to make the word plural first (COMPETITORS), and then add the apostrophe to show that the AGES belong to the COMPETITORS.  The sentence should read this way:

The competitors' ages range from 8 or 9 years old to 80.

 Here is the second apostrophe problem:

Thursday kicks off with a practice match that let's the gunfighters get in a warm up on the range….

 Whoops #2: LET'S is a contraction of LET US.  In this sentence, all the press release writer needs is the plain old 3rd person singular verb LETS.  I don't really know what a WARM UP is–an UP that's been out in the sun maybe?  When used as a noun, it should be WARMUP. The sentence should read this way:

Thursday kicks off with a practice match that lets the gunfighters get in a warmup on the range….

 

BONUS GLITCH FOR THE LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Here is a usage glitch I've never seen before, one I think I'll share with Tammy Gross who did the list of commonly misused words for LinkedIn. (See August 23 post.)

 I like this site its a master peace !  

Where do I begin? First of all, it is a run-on sentence.  (See yesterday's post on those.) There should be a period between SITE and ITS.  Second, IT'S needs the apostrophe because it is a contraction of IT and IS.  Finally, PEACE is a homonym for PIECE, which is the correct choice here, and it should be a compound word with MASTER–MASTERPIECE.  The sentence should read this way:

I like this site. It's a masterpiece !

I do thank the writer for liking this site, and I hope he or she will come back often in spite of (or because of) my comments on the statement.  Thanks!


Artist/PR student has apostrophe problems.

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A local ad brochure arrived in my mailbox this week. It contained many colorful and attractive advertisements, including one for original artwork by a public relations student. Although the artwork samples shown were beautiful, the ad copy contained three apostrophe errors.  I sincerely hope this college student will get her punctuation straight before she applies for a job in PR.

Here is the first error:

While being here in college and not being able to paint inside my apartment, I have turned my grandparent's home into my own personal art studio. I use their kitchen, den, front door hallway, and covered garage as my own personal design workspace.

Whoops #1: When I read the first sentence, I concluded that this student had only one grandparent living in the house where she creates her art (because the S came before the apostrophe in GRANDPARENT'S).  Then I read the second sentence, which uses the word THEIR and clearly indicates two grandparents.  The apostrophe should come after the S.  Make GRANDPARENTS plural first, then plural possessive.  It should look like this:

While being here in college and not being able to paint inside my apartment, I have turned my grandparents' home into my own personal art studio. I use their kitchen, den, front door hallway, and covered garage as my own personal design workspace.

I HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE, AND I WILL SAY IT AGAIN: THE APOSTROPHE SHOULD NOT BE USED TO MAKE A WORD PLURAL. Consider this sentence:

A few years ago one of my teacher's saw some of my doodling on my notebook…..

Whoops #2: In this sentence, TEACHERS is just plural, not possessive.  Nothing belongs to the TEACHERS in this sentence; therefore, no apostrophe is needed.  It should read this way:

A few years ago one of my teachers saw some of my doodling on my notebook…..

 

There are several options to consider when correcting the third apostrophe error.  Consider this sentence:

There is no better feeling than seeing individual's eye light up, and hearing such positive, happy compliments after they view my whimsical, eclectic artwork!

Whoops #3: An INDIVIDUAL is one person.  Does only one of that person's EYES light up when viewing this artwork? If we are talking about one INDIVIDUAL, why is the pronoun THEY used in the second part of the sentence? The simplest way to untangle this sentence is to make it plural, suggesting that lots of people's eyes light up.  Then there is the problem of whether or not SEEING and HEARING should be described as FEELINGS. I would rewrite it this way:

There is no better experience than seeing people's eyes light up and hearing such positive, happy compliments after they view my whimsical, eclectic artwork!

 

Certainly, the art student should have learned how to use apostrophes correctly, but I would also fault the copy editor for not spotting the three errors and correcting them before the publication went to the printer. If I were hiring someone in PR, neither of them would get the job!

 

 

 

 


New York Daily News headline uses IT’S where ITS should be.

Friday, August 19th, 2011

An online headline for New York Daily News caught my eye on Tuesday.  Here it is:

Whoops!  IT'S with an apostrophe is always the contraction of IT + IS or IT + HAS.  The copy editor should have corrected to ITS without the apostrophe to show that the 'wealthy economy' belongs to the U.S. (Or so we continue to hope!)  This headline should read as follows:

Fitch Ratings: U. S. and its 'wealthy economy' still AAA.

FOOTNOTE: To the credit of New York Daily News, when I searched for this article again this morning, the headline had been corrected.

My sincere thanks to Michelle Baker for her two guest posts last week, which I'm sure you enjoyed.

 

 


Whither the apostrophe when the name ends in S?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Yesterday's "News Feed" in The Birmingham News contained a sad story about a double homicide. The story also contained an apostrophe error that was committed twice. I have changed the last name of the victims but changed it to a different last name that makes the same point. I have also left out other names from the story.

Here is what reporter Thomas Spencer wrote (except for the name change):

According to ———– County Coroner —————, the double homicide occurred around 5 a.m. on ———- Street, where the victims Sharon Chambers and her daughter Patricia Chambers lived…..Police named Patricia Chamber's estranged boyfriend———— as a suspect and are seeking him for questioning.  ———— is the father of Chamber's ——— children.

Whoops!  CHAMBERS, with the S, is a complete name.  When you want to make it possessive, you cannot put the apostrophe before the S.

You have two choices: Put an apostrophe after the S in the name OR put an apostrophe and an S after the name. My choice here would be just the apostrophe after the S because I don't want to have to pronounce the result as "CHAMBERSUZ."  The sentence should read this way:

According to ———– County Coroner —————, the double homicide occurred around 5 a.m. on ———- Street, where the victims Sharon Chambers and her daughter Patricia Chambers lived…..Police named Patricia Chambers' estranged boyfriend———— as a suspect and are seeking him for questioning. ———— is the father of Chambers' ——— children.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Notice that there is no apostrophe after CHAMBERS when it simply names the woman and her daughter. 

 

 


Hearing aid company ad offers perfect example of bad usage = bad impression.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

The heated debate about the importance of good spelling continues on LinkedIn (see previous blog post). When I opened my local newspaper yesterday morning, page 8A carried a perfect example of the kind of poor advertisement that can detract from a company's professional image. Today's ad for Patillo Balance and Hearing Center, a respected business in Birmingham, contains not one but SEVEN spelling and usage errors in ONE ad!  I believe that is a record in my collection, and I cannot imagine how it got past proofreaders at Patillo and at The Birmingham News.  Yoo-hoo, anybody in that capacity on duty? 

 Whoops #1–Although PREFORM is a word, it is not the one needed here.  It should be PERFORM, which is what you would want your hearing aid to do when you want to hear. PREFORM means to shape something ahead of time.

 

Whoops #2–THROUGH is a word, but it is not the one needed here.  You don't want a THROUGH computerized hearing test, you want one that is comprehensive (THOROUGH).

 

Whoops #3 and #4–POWERFULL is simply misspelled.  It should have only one L at the end (POWERFUL), and a quick spell check (if someone had bothered) would have caught that one. The same is true with DESCREET, which is not a word at all.  You want your hearing aid to be DISCREET (not standing out like a sore thumb).

 

Whoops #5–MANUFACTURERS refers to the producers of the hearing aids, so possession should be indicated with an apostrophe.  This coupon entry should read: FREE CLEANING AND INSPECTION OF ANY MANUFACTURER'S HEARING AIDS.

 

Whoops #6 and #7–The word CLEARER is a comparative adjective, as in CLEARER hearing or CLEARER sound.  CLEARER describes a noun.  In this sentence, the writer is referring to the word HEAR, which is a verb.  Therefore, the comparative adverb MORE CLEARLY is needed.  This is followed by the phrase ON THE PHOTO.  I read that three or four times before I figured out that it should have been PHONE, not PHOTO. That sentence should read as follows:

  • Hear more clearly on the phone, in the car, even outside.

Pet Salon needs Grammar Grooming

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Today's Grammar Glitches come from a promotional article about a new pet salon.  Groomingdale's (I love the name!) gets the apostrophe in the correct spot in the salon name but leaves it out in two important sentences in the article.  Here is the first:

 I opened my first shop in 2002 because of our Afghan Hounds constant need for grooming. 

HOUNDS needs to be possessive, indicating that the NEED FOR GROOMING belongs to the HOUND. I am assuming there is only one Afghan Hound in the family and so would put the aspostrophe before the S.  The sentence should read this way:

I opened my first shop in 2002 because of our Afghan Hound's constant need for grooming.

The second sentence has the same apostrophe problem:

Groomingdale's is a stress free, safe and loving pet spa meeting any and all of your best "furry" friends pampering needs.

In this sentence, the PAMPERING NEEDS should belong to the "FURRY" FRIENDS (plural), so the possessive apostrophe should go after the S.  The sentence should read this way:

Groomingdale's is a stress free, safe and loving pet spa meeting any and all of your best "furry" friends' pampering needs.

 


Ostrich farm doesn’t have IT’S head in the sand!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The Birmingham News has a Sunday column titled "Outside Looking In: What They're Saying About Us." I was quite surprised to discover, when reading this column last Sunday, that Michael Hastings (Hastings Ostrich Farms in Australia) thinks everyone in Alabama wears boots. He does sell his ostrich leather boots in Alabama, but I believe his opinion is slightly exaggerated.  Perhaps he has Alabama confused with Texas?

Anyway, Greg Richter put this sentence in the column and gave me the opportunity to remind readers once again about the difference between ITS (possessive, as in belonging to an ostrich farm) and IT'S (contraction of IT + IS, as in IT'S an exaggeration to say that everyone in Alabama wears boots.)

Ostrich leather is the second most durable, behind kangaroo, they say down under, and Hastings Ostrich Farms doesn't have it's head in the sand over the opportunities that entails.

This sentence needs the possessive ITS (without the apostrophe) to show that the HEAD belongs to the HASTINGS OSTRICH FARMS. The sentence should read this way:

Ostrich leather is the second most durable, behind kangaroo, they say down under, and Hastings Ostrich Farms doesn't have its head in the sand over the opportunities that entails.


Comment sentences yield more Glitches

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Here is a sentence that appeared in a comment this week and gives me the opportunity to remind readers yet again about apostrophe usage:

It's already in my favorite's folder so I can quickly access it.

Whoops! The first apostrophe in IT'S is correct because it is a contraction of IT and IS. The second apostrophe in FAVORITE'S should be removed. FAVORITES is plural or this person wouldn't have an entire folder for FAVORITES.  The folder does not belong to the FAVORITES. That is just the title of the folder. (NOTE: I am very happy to be included in this person's FAVORITES folder!) The sentence should read this way:

It's already in my favorites folder so I can quickly access it.

Here is another sentence that appeared in a comment this week:

If your aiming to get much more viewers, and make additional income by using your own web site you really should have a look at this website….

 Whoops! a couple times here. First, the word YOUR should be YOU'RE because it is meant to be a contraction of YOU and ARE. Second, VIEWERS can be counted, so MUCH should be changed to MANY. In addition, I would move the comma placed after VIEWERS to after SITE because everything through the word SITE is part of introductory information that comes before the main subject, which is YOU.

(NOTE: The extra three dots at the end of this sentence are an ellipsis, which means that I left something out at the end. What I left out was the recommended website because I don't recommend web sites I am not personally familiar with.) This sentence should read as follows:

If you're aiming to get many more viewers and make additional income by using your own web site, you really should have a look at this web site….

 

 

 


Sloppy ad edits detract from newsletter quality.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

A local newsletter arrived in my mailbox this week. The articles are well written, but many of the advertisements contain poor usage and punctuation. Here is one example:

I take Pride in what I do and putting Smiles on my client's  faces! 

Whoops! Does this business person have only one client? That is what the apostrophe before the S implies. Putting the apostrophe after the S implies much more business! I would also add the word IN before PUTTING to make the sentence more parallel.  NOTE: In advertising copy, I don't see a problem with capitalizing PRIDE and SMILES for emphasis. Here is my suggested edit:

I take Pride in what I do and in putting Smiles on my clients'  faces! 

Here is another Glitchy ad sentence from the same newsletter:

Our goal is to make sure your custom building needs are built the way you want it!

Whoops again!  NEEDS (plural) does not describe what the customer wants built. And IT (singular) cannot refer back to the plural NEEDS. The goal should be to complete the PROJECT the way the customer wants it. The sentence should read this way:

Our goal is to make sure your custom building project is built the way you want it!

 

 

 

 

 

I take II 

 


Begonia’s and Petunia’s??

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I received an order form this week for spring flowers. A very nice, grammatically correct letter from a young lady in our neighborhood accompanied the order form. She and her church group are selling plants to raise money for a summer mission trip.

The order form listed the bedding plants this way:

Begonia's Red     Impatiens     Trailing Petunia's     Red Geraniums 

Hm-mmm. I do not see the logic of inserting an apostrophe before the S on BEGONIAS and PETUNIAS and not inserting an apostrophe before the S on GERANIUMS. The word IMPATIENS ends in an S whether singular or plural, so I can see why no excess apostrophe was added there.

The order form should have listed the flowers this way:

Begonias     Red Impatiens      Trailing Petunias      Red Geraniums 

 

Some of my readers may be tired of seeing this subject over and over on Grammar Glitch Central, but it is an ongoing and widespread problem. If it wasn't, there would be no need for the www.apostropheabuse.com blog site, which you might enjoy checking out. They offer hundreds of funny examples of this problem.

 

TODAY'S BONUS GLITCH: In an article about recycling bread bags, I came across this useful but incorrectly worded suggestion:

Use them (plastic bread bags) to marinade veggies, chicken or meat.

Whoops! MARINADE is the wonderful mixture of oil, spices, and other ingredients you use to MARINATE your veggies, chicken or meat. MARINADE is a noun. MARINATE is a verb and should have been the choice here.