Friday Follies #54 – 3 mistakes that make me go “Arghhh”

Hi all! The Grammar Cop welcomes you back to another funfest of language errors.

  1. SALON.COM – “So it stands to reason that Trump’s border wall, Muslim ban and bellicose appeals for ‘law and order’ (along with his overt misogyny) is a clarion call to this faction.” Did you spot the boo-boo? The verb should be are, not is. The reason? There are many subjects of this verb: the damn wall, the stupid ban, and the unnecessary appeals. (Oops, sorry for the editorializing! Couldn’t help myself! 😀 ) So the fact that there is more than one subject, means that the verb has to become plural; in this case, it must be are.
  2. THE SUBURBAN – (Yes, my go-to source of slips.) In an ad for a construction company: “Add On’s & Extensions.”  Why on earth was an apostrophe put in front of the letter s? You should only add ‘s to a word if you are making it possessive. As in: the cat’s tail. The dog’s bark. The bat’s navigational abilities via sonar.
  3. THE SUBURBAN – “It’s job is not to make more and more profits off its citizens.” Now this sentence really interests me (in a negative way!) for two reasons. One is, notice how the writer made an error with the first instance of the possessive its, but had it right in the second… within the same sentence. Weird. (Its does not take an apostrophe when it is possessive, just to be clear.) The second reason this interests me is because it was in an editorial written by the editor in chief of this paper. I know English is not his first language. But: all the more reason someone else – whose first language IS English – should look over his piece each week, don’t you think? To save on embarrassment and boost credibility? Just my opinion. Grrr.

Hope you have a lovely gaffe-free weekend!

13 thoughts on “Friday Follies #54 – 3 mistakes that make me go “Arghhh”

  1. You write “You should only add ‘s to a word if you are making it possessive.”
    Another instance where I learned to use an apostrophe and s is to form the plural of lower-case letters and of abbreviations followed by periods.
    For example: His a’s look like o’s.
    Over half of the Ph.D.’s are looking for work.

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    1. I would agree on the a’s and o’s. 🙂 I guess I was speaking strictly of words, not single letters. 🙂 But did you know that 1800s and 1950s are accepted now? (As opposed to the 1950’s as we used to write it?)

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      1. I think for a long time either was acceptable, but more and more the 1950s are taking over. A friend of mine, equally picky, makes a good point. He says that if the letters in the word to be made plural are HIGHER than the s added on the end, then an apostrophe is not needed. So according to this rule, PhDs would be okay. And 1950s would be okay too – as long as the zero is taller than the s. (Depends on the font. Oh dear!)

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      2. But no, in my opinion, PhDs is not correct BECAUSE it is Ph.D.’s – this is an abbreviation followed by a period, not the same as 1950s.

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      3. Both are acceptable. Ph.D. and PhD are both correct; it’s a matter of preference. But the no-periods style is gradually becoming more popular – especially in North America. By the way, I’d like to refer you to a LinkedIn discussion group you may be interested in – it’s called Grammar Geeks. Users there love to have long exchanges about arcane usage. This is as far as I’m going on this topic just now.

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      4. I am always a wee bit undecided on how to write acronyms, like DVDs/DVD’s. My sister says that she looked it up in Strunk and White, and they said to use the apostrophe, but it looks wrong to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Dayuntoday, regarding DVDs, see my reply to Penny.
        Re Strunk and White, if you’re referring to The Elements of Style, I just checked the date on my copy: 1959. In some areas, grammar has evolved since then. 🙂

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      6. And my bible, the Harbrace College Handbook, says that DVDs or DVD’s is acceptable. These are upper case letters and there is no period for abbreviations (as there was with, say, Ph.D.’s).

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      7. Two comments. One, different handbooks may say different things. Just goes to show there is not a definitive rule yet, for this bit. Two: If you use DVD’s as a plural, how would you differentiate it from “the DVD’s case” or “the DVD’s cover” etc.?

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      8. If either is acceptable, DVDs or DVD’s, then I would use whichever was not confusing AND whichever was consistent with my piece of writing. So, ‘the DVD’s case’ or ‘the DVDs’ cases’. But you know, having said that, even ‘the DVD’s’ cases’ would not seem to be confusing because of the plural ‘cases’ – just awkward.

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  2. Actually, that first example is something that I have heard debated. Some think that when the verb technically *should* be plural, but is immediately preceded by a singular noun, that the singular noun should be used in order to promote smooth reading flow. Read through it with an “are” and notice how your brain will stop and stumble a bit on it. 🙂

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    1. Oh, but my brain stumbled on the “is.” 😀 Because in my brain, it was preceded by the plural noun, “appeals.” I guess you focused more on the singular “misogyny”? Let’s call it a tie! 😀

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