Grammar Giggle – Accessories for Whom?

I saw this in a Las Vegas shopping area last week while there for the NALS Educational Conference and I was a little confused. Does this store sell Women’s Accessories? Or are they selling accessories to one specific woman making them the Woman’s Accessories (and not selling them to anyone else)? Or are they a new accessory line designed by a person named “Woman”? It was a big sign on the outside of a store to lure you in . . . unless you are as highly disturbed as I am by mistakes that should not be on display in public places in signs that obviously cost a lot of money.

IMG_2366 (2)

Grammar Giggle – Millions of Adults, One Birthday

I was wandering through Target the other day and spotted this sign. Because I’m particularly sensitive to issues involving the apostrophe, those errors seem to jump out at me. This sign made me wonder if all adults share one birthday, because that is what the sign–as written–actually says. It should be “Adult’s Birthday” indicating the birthday belonging to an adult or, even easier, leave the apostrophe out and call it “Adult Birthday.” Really, Target?

Target2

Grammar Giggles – Newcomer . . . Just One?

I spent Sunday with friends at the Delmar Racetrack. Weather was beautiful, wine was delicious, and time with friends was amazing. However, as the girls say now, “We can’t go anywhere nice.” They say that because as soon as I pull my phone out, they start looking around for errors. This one I found right inside the gates as we were walking in. “Newcomer’s Seminar Daily” was one of the first signs we saw. While I commend the Track on helping people new to horse racing to be comfortable with the language, etc., I wondered to myself why they only held a seminar for one newcomer at a time. When you add the possessive, you should test it by taking off the apostrophe (and the “s” if one is there) to check the root word. In this case, that word would be “newcomer” which is obviously singular–one newcomer. They also apparently know the correct way to state it because it was correct in the program. They are training all of the “newcomers,” so you would START with that word and then make it possessive.

image1 (4)

Acronyms, All Caps, Plurals, and Possessives

This topic came up recently in my own task of proofreading. If you have an acronym or another all capital letter word, how do you make it plural or possessive? And then once you do, is the added pluralization or possession in all caps or not?

The short answer is that any pluralization or possession is added to the base word, but in this case, it is NOT in all caps:

  • There are never any ATMs around when you need them.
  • ADOT’s signs don’t always help the traffic flow.

There are times where you will need to use an apostrophe to avoid confusion:

  • Her report card had all A’s and B’s.

Here, the “A’s and B’s” are not possessive, but it could be confusing to leave the apostrophe out in “As” as it is a different (and real) word. In this case, the apostrophe in “B’s” is for consistency.

There is some confusion when using abbreviations because making the abbreviations possessive may be different than making the entire original words possessive:

  • The United States’ geography is so varied and interesting.
  • The U.S.’s geography is so varied and interesting.

You will use the rules depending on how it sounds. The “United States” spelled out does not need an apostrophe and “s” because you don’t say the extra “s.” But using the abbreviation “U.S.,” you would say the extra “s,” so would add the apostrophe and “s.” See Apostrophail!.

Just remember that only the original acronym or abbreviation should be in caps and any pluralization or possession would be added to that, but not in caps.

Grammar Giggle – Cod Fillet’s and Bags

I found this in a grocery store in Albuquerque. If I were to read this sign literally, I would see that it is $9.99 for the Cod Fillet’s 16 oz. bag, which sounds significantly overpriced unless it is a designer bag. And to warrant a sign, that Cod Fillet must have more bags than some of my friends do. I’m pretty sure they meant to say that the $9.99 was for a 16 oz. bag of cod fillets, but that’s not what it actually says.

 

Cod

Grammar Giggle – Ladie’s Room

I caught this one on a trip back from Albuquerque recently. Even my grandchildren knew this was wrong (since they had to figure out why I had my phone out taking a picture in the middle of a store).

Confusing Words

A few weeks ago, a blog post went over several words that are frequently confused by writers (See More Confusing Words!). Here are a few more:

casual – informal
causal – causingcereal killer

cereal – breakfast food
serial – a series

choose – to select
chose – did choose (past tense of choose)

cite – to quote
site – a place
sight – to see

click – a slight, sharp sound
clique – an exclusive group
cliché – a trite phrase

collision – coming violently together
collusion – fraudulent scheme

complement – something that goes well with something
compliment – a flattering remark

council – a body of persons specially designated or selected for a purpose
counsel – an attorney; to give advice
consul – a foreign representative

cue – hint
queue – a line, especially people waiting their turn

dairy – cows and milking equipment
diary – a journal of daily activities

It’s always important to make sure you are using the same words, particularly when they are easily confused. Take the time to look up definitions if necessary to make sure you are using the correct word.

 

Grammar Giggles – Teachers, Teacher’s, Teachers’

Apparently, according to this news story, only one teacher across the nation is striking. That is because they made the singular word teacher possessive by adding apostrophe “s” rather than making the plural word teachers possessive by just adding an apostrophe. It seems that a strike would be so much more effective if multiple teachers across this great nation were involved.

Teacher's Strike

Grammar Giggle – Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day! I’m assuming this school was talking about the holiday honoring ALL of the U.S. Presidents and not just one President. Remember, with apostrophes you start with the correct word–in this case, “Presidents” because you’re talking about all the Presidents–and then make it possessive by adding an apostrophe (and an “s” if necessary). NOTE: various sources disagree about whether the apostrophe belongs at all. Since the apostrophe denotes possession and the holiday is to honor U.S. Presidents and not a day that belongs to those Presidents, no apostrophe is probably more correct. In any event, this school sign is obviously incorrect.

image

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thinking about Thanksgiving here in the United States got me thinking about names of holidays and grammar rules. For instance, if you use Eve or Day with the name of a holiday, i.e., Thanksgiving Day, you capitalize day. However, if you were to say “the day before Thanksgiving,” day would not be capitalized. Religious holidays are also capitalized

  • Good Friday
  • Hanukkah

Even some “invented” holidays are capitalized

  • Black Friday
  • Pi Day

Is happy capitalized when used with a holiday? If you exclaim “Happy Thanksgiving!” then it is, but if you use it in a regular sentence “I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving,” then it is not.

Generally, the seasons of the year are not capitalized unless it is part of a proper name.

  • This winter seems to be colder than normal.
  • The Phoenix College Spring Semester 2014 will begin in January.
  • HOWEVER: The fall semester is nearly over.

When using seasons to describe time of year, remember that seasons are reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. When it is summer in the U.S., it is winter in most of South America and Australia. In that case, it is clearer to say “the first three months of the year,” or “the last quarter of 2014.”

As for possessives with the word “season,” the phrase Season’s greetings! is possessive because you are referring to holidays that happen only during one season—winter. Possessives with names of holidays are usually singular; however, where the holiday is plural, the apostrophe is after the plural word:

  • Presidents’ Day (celebrating more than one president)
  • April Fools’ Day (more than one fool)
  • Mother’s Day (each family celebrating its mother and it is the official name of the holiday)
  • Father’s Day (same)
  • HOWEVER: Veterans Day (official name of the holiday)

The official holiday name wins out over plurals and possessives, so you may just have to look it up to be positive you are correct.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and know that when I count my blessings, the people who read my blog faithfully, those who stumble across it, and those who cheer me on are near the top of my list. Thank you!

20131128-161718.jpg