Author Topic: apostrophe problem  (Read 10704 times)

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2010, 12:12:05 PM »
You know, guys, this question has been bothering me all weekend. I even took my little Penguin Guide to Punctuation with me when we went to the theater to watch my daughter and her drama class perform, and the next day to the sports hall where my other daughter was playing in a judo competition, and to the hairdresser's this morning, because I just needed to know for sure. I had this nagging feeling that in my analysis of the problem I'd overlooked something, and I really don't know why, but somehow I 'missed' this.

“Years” is plural, so the apostrophe goes after the s — “ten years’ secrets revealed’. If you add the "of", you don't need an apostrophe, because it is no longer a possessive.  


(Well, I must have read it, but somehow just not taken it in...)

Anyway, Hugh is right. The apostrophe would have been needed if years were a possessive, but by adding the of it's not a possessive anymore, but simply a plural. Hence, no apostrophe is needed.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 12:14:08 PM by Nelodra »

Offline Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2010, 03:39:37 PM »
Oh dear, Leah. Sorry if I was the cause of you taking a punctuation guide to all those places, even the hairdresser, over a pesky apostrophe.

I had someone in a writing group who would write its’ as the possessive.

“But you said the apostrophe goes after the s.”

“Yes, but only when the s makes a plural. Its is the possessive, not the plural, of it, of which the plural is they or them.”

I wrote, in the simplest language I could, a whole A4 page about apostrophes, just for her. The next piece she gave me for critique — you’ve guessed it — she wrote its’.

She was a very pleasant, intelligent woman but, like many other people, just couldn’t get the hang of apostrophes.

One book that gives you a chuckle while painlessly absorbing some of the commonly misused rules of punctuation is Lynne Truss’s Eats Shoots & Leaves. If you haven’t read it, it originally cost £9.99, but you can now get it for less than £3, post free (yes, that includes the Netherlands), from Play.Com.

I’m not implying that you need it, Leah, merely that I think you’d enjoy it.

Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2010, 04:18:11 PM »
Don't be sorry, Hugh, it wasn't your fault to start with (I'm just like that: a little nitpicker) and besides, I can't think of anything more boring than going to the hairdresser's. And I actually like my Penguin Guide to Punctuation. It's a nice read.  And it only cost me €3   :D

The Eats Shoots & Leaves sounds like a good deal at only £3, too, though, and my hubby knows his way around Play.com, so I'll ask him to order it for me. He won't understand, of course, but he'll do it anyway, because he loves me.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 04:24:27 PM by Nelodra »

Offline Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2010, 05:26:19 AM »
He won't understand, of course, but he'll do it anyway, because he loves me.


Aaah. That’s all that matters. To expect a bloke to understand a woman as well, is asking a bit much. Perhaps we should read airborn’s book and learn a few secrets, although the escort business is rather different from a loving relationship.

Airborn, you’ve seen what can happen to a thread once we start chatting amongst ourselves, so I won’t take it any further away from apostrophes. I hope our little exchanges have helped answer your original question.

Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2010, 10:39:24 AM »
 :D

Offline Nick

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2010, 05:31:33 AM »
In a way I'm sorry to keep this going when agreement has otherwise been reached, but I simply don't agree that the use of 'of' in 'Ten Years of Insider Secrets' means that the apostrophe after 'Years' is not required.

The 'of' before Insider Secrets isn't actually relevant one way or the other, IMO. The question is whether the word 'worth' is implied or not. If the expression is actually a contraction of 'Ten years of worth' or 'a worth (value) of ten years' (and in my view it is), then the apostrophe after 'years' is definitely needed.

I think the fact that years in the example is a plural is what's causing the confusion, so consider an example in the singular instead. You would certainly write "a year's worth of coffee" (as a contest prize maybe!). And equally, it would have to be "ten years' worth of coffee", with the apostrophe. Again, the fact that there is an 'of' in front of coffee makes no difference one way or the other. It's not a possessive in this context, just a preposition.

Nick  :)
« Last Edit: June 17, 2010, 05:52:03 AM by Nick »
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2010, 05:52:30 AM »
Oh, Nick you're so cruel!  ;)

Now I'll be schlepping my Penguin Guide to Punctuation with me again everywhere I go for the next couple of days. Or at least until my copy of Eats Shoots & Leaves arrives.  :D

Offline DC

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2010, 04:20:56 PM »
And just to be pedantic, you've all missed that other bane of many writers' lives, the Comma, out of the title of "Eats, shoots and leaves".




















OK, getting my coat...
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - open throttle in the other -
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming : "Woo Hoo, what
a ride!"

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2010, 05:23:24 PM »
And just to be pedantic, you've all missed that other bane of many writers' lives, the Comma, out of the title of "Eats, shoots and leaves".


Well, you can't blame me for that. I never saw the book yet (not even on Play.com, as I simply asked the hubby to take care of that), and just copied the title from Hugh's post.   :P

I did wonder why there was no comma after "eats", though. But then again, you never know with titles these days.


Meanwhile, I'm more "worried" by Nick's post. It's his example ("a year's worth of coffee") that has me wrecking my brains. You see, I'd definitely write "ten years' worth of secrets", but that got shortened to ten years (either with or without the apostrophe) of secrets, but now try doing that to "a year's worth of coffee". Would you say "a year's of coffee"? Or even "a year of coffee"? I don't think so. At least I can't imagine myself saying anything like that. It just doesn't sound like correct English to me, which raises the following question: Is "ten years' of secrets" (and still never mind the apostrophe) correct English at all?  ???

Offline Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2010, 05:14:10 AM »
If you read Lynne Truss’s book, you’ll see that she chose the title to illustrate how a misplaced comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence, making it nonsense.

A panda goes into a restaurant and eats shoots and leaves; bamboo shoots and leaves, of course, because that’s what pandas live on. If you put a comma after eats, it looks as if he eats, fires a gun, then leaves. If you put a comma after shoots, it looks as if he eats the shoots, then leaves. So “eats shoots and leaves” is correct.

As for the apostrophe thing, I’ve voiced my opinion, whether grammatically strictly correct or not. I usually go on the principle that, if it looks wrong, it probably is. And to me the apostrophe looks wrong, but I sure ain’t going to lose any sleep over it. I think we will just have to agree to differ, and leave it to airborn to decide which way to go.

Hugh

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2010, 09:31:05 AM »
If you read Lynne Truss’s book, you’ll see that she chose the title to illustrate how a misplaced comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence, making it nonsense.

A panda goes into a restaurant and eats shoots and leaves; bamboo shoots and leaves, of course, because that’s what pandas live on. If you put a comma after eats, it looks as if he eats, fires a gun, then leaves. If you put a comma after shoots, it looks as if he eats the shoots, then leaves. So “eats shoots and leaves” is correct.

That's cool! Unexpected, but very true. I like it.  :)

Offline Nick

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2010, 02:02:44 PM »
Meanwhile, I'm more "worried" by Nick's post. It's his example ("a year's worth of coffee") that has me wrecking my brains. You see, I'd definitely write "ten years' worth of secrets", but that got shortened to ten years (either with or without the apostrophe) of secrets, but now try doing that to "a year's worth of coffee". Would you say "a year's of coffee"? Or even "a year of coffee"? I don't think so. At least I can't imagine myself saying anything like that. It just doesn't sound like correct English to me, which raises the following question: Is "ten years' of secrets" (and still never mind the apostrophe) correct English at all?  ???

I wouldn't like to be accused of extending this debate unduly. However, I don't see any objection to "Ten years' of secrets", where (in my opinion) the word "worth" is understood and elided. But you're right, no native English speaker would say "A year's of coffee". You would have to include the word "worth" in this case for the phrase to make sense. This just seems to me to be one of the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2010, 02:48:19 PM »
Unduly?

Nick, you've no idea how much I'm enjoying this conversation. You know that nerdy girl that never talks to anyone, because she's got her nose stuck in a book? That girl is me.  :D

Offline WordBird

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2010, 03:30:19 PM »
My 2cents worth:

How To Become A Male Escort For Ladies: 10 Years Of Insider Secrets Revealed

Ok, when I read that what I see is 10 years of an Insider's Secrets. The 10 years is just plural. Without the insider, the 10years means nothing. ??

Hi airborne, I would leave the apostrophe off. The main reason being that your audience probably doesn't give a rat's butt if the title is grammatically correct. And, it is distracting even for someone who understands proper grammar. Instead of just seeing a title of a book that I feel like I must buy, I see a title and think: Hmmm, years is possessive. Go Figure!

Offline Nick

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Re: apostrophe problem
« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2010, 05:06:49 AM »
Quote
How To Become A Male Escort For Ladies: 10 Years Of Insider Secrets Revealed

How much is that? I'd like to buy a copy  ;)

Seriously, I agree you can make a case for years being a simple plural, and as a book title it looks more natural without one. As I said previously, for those purely pragmatic reasons I would go for the version without an apostrophe in this case.

Grammatically, though, I do still think that the version with an apostrophe is more correct, as I think the word 'worth' is implied in the expression. However, I certainly wouldn't claim that the version without an apostrophe is clearly wrong.

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.