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Use of Apostrophe

 
 
Seizan
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2021 05:15 am
Hi folks, after a long time...

I finally published my book about this old karate style and its concepts, philosophies, and training ideals. A reader posted a wonderful review on Amazon.com, but wrote me and told me that I used the apostrophe incorrectly...

I said "These were created in the 1950's".

He said it should be "1950s". No apostrophe.

Which is correct? Maybe both ways? Is one British English use, and the other American, maybe?
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Type: Question • Score: 3 • Views: 743 • Replies: 7
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izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 May, 2021 05:22 am
@Seizan,
It’s a habit that has been creeping in over here.

We see it a lot in shop signs particularly ones that sell CDs or CD’s as they’re often advertised that way.

I think it’s the difference between descriptive and prescriptive grammar, the apostrophe is wrong, but if it is regularly used like this eventually it will become common practice and therefore correct.

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oralloy
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 May, 2021 08:24 am
"No apostrophe" is technically correct.

But it is a rule that is frequently broken. Such an erroneous apostrophe is called a "greengrocer's apostrophe" or "grocer's apostrophe".

If you do internet searches for those terms you should find a lot of articles.

Here's one:
https://karoku.com/english-grammar-rules-where-do-those-pesky-apostrophes-go/


I sometimes break the rules and use a greengrocer's apostrophe when referring to military aircraft. For example, I will refer to multiple F-16 fighter jets as F-16's.

I do this because sometimes there are different models of F-16 denoted by letter, and I want to make clear to the reader that I mean plural and am not referring to an "s" model of the F-16 (if such a model exists). But I am consciously violating the rules when I do this. I just figure a grammar error might serve to avoid a misunderstanding so I go with it.


On the other hand, if you were to refer to the 1950s as the 50s, it would be appropriate to place an apostrophe in front like this:

"Back in the '50s they used to...."
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 May, 2021 12:35 pm
@oralloy,
Some more examples: When to Use an Apostrophe with Numbers and Dates

oralloy wrote:
On the other hand, if you were to refer to the 1950s as the 50s, it would be appropriate to place an apostrophe in front like this:

"Back in the '50s they used to...."
The correct use of an apostrophe to indicate missing digits is too often "forgotten".

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Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 May, 2021 02:59 pm
@oralloy,
Thanks! I rather like the idea of a "flexible-use" apostrophe...

I was taught that use of the apostrophe designates the subject as "belonging to", while the s alone merely indicates a plural (or belonging to a group, like "my students' books"). This was the first time anyone pointed out that it might possibly be an error, so I wanted to be sure.

If I wrote descriptively, "It is 1950s model Ford" it might seem the model number was "1950S-model". If I use the apostrophe, it is more likely to be seen as a Ford belonging to the time period of 1950 to 1959.

I'll stick with the apostrophe in the future too (unless the Punctuation Police come for me). But I seldom use double-digit indicators for years, like '50s and '60s; I use 1950's and 1960's.
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Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 May, 2021 02:17 pm
Mysteries of the Apostrophe...

OK, here's another one.

I am writing a set of story books for children. This is a joint family work. I wrote the stories, my wife is translating into Japanese kanji and hiragana (simple phonetics so really young kids can read the stories and pronounce the words), and our son Motoki (35, artist) is doing illustrations for each book.

Am I writing children stories / childrens stories / children's stories / childrens' stories...?
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 May, 2021 02:41 pm
@Seizan,
Third one. Children is a plural already so apostrophe s, children’s.

If you were writing stories for cats it would be cats’ stories.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 May, 2021 03:30 pm
@izzythepush,
Ah, thanks. I haven't been sure, so I have been saying "stories for children" since I started writing them...
0 Replies
 
 

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