The Angry Apostrophe

Black_lace_barbie From Loretta:

I recently learned that 24 September is National Punctuation Day.  In honor of the occasion–which coincides nicely with my recent blogs dealing with Annoying Errors, I thought we could talk about those interesting squigglies and dots and dashes we use to help readers understand what we mean.

In my last blog, I indicated that one way to get a group of authors ranting and raving was to bring up the subject of copy editors.  Among other things, a copy editor is supposed to check our punctuation.  For some reason, copy edit changes used to disturb me far more than editorial changes.  I would go ballistic when a copy editor removed or added a comma, yet not even blink when an editor suggested I delete three chapters.

Virago It must be some kind of mental condition.  That would explain why I still twitch when I remember a very weird set of mistakes in at least one volume of Byron’s Letters and Journals.  Throughout, it’s was used where its should be and vice versa.  It drove me insane.

Yswfrontsm200dpi I know Byron was clueless about punctuation.  He admitted it.  I know a dash tended to be his universal punctuation tool–but he did dash very dashingly, we must admit.  I can understand his failing to master the art of commas, semi-colons, and colons.  An apostrophe, however, is sort of a spelling tool, isn’t it?  It marks contractions.  And he seemed to understand this aspect of punctuation..sort of…or was that his editor?  He uses tons of contractions.  They appear in practically every piece of his poetry I quoted in Your Scandalous Ways.  Here’s a sample from Beppo.

      Didst ever see a Gondola?  For fear
       You should not, I’ll describe it to you exactly:
      ‘Tis a long cover’d boat that’s common here,
       Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly;
      Row’d by two rowers, each call’d ‘Gondolier,’
       It glides along the water looking blackly,
      Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe,
      Where none can make out what you say or do.

Life_in_london_pg Yes, he had his own unique style but his grammar was fine and his spelling no weirder or more inconsistent than others of his time.  It seems bizarre that he got it’s and its backwards consistently.  I can’t help thinking those errors were not in the original letters but were committed by a typist, copy editor, or printer and somehow went through the whole production process without anyone realizing–or with everyone thinking that’s how he did it.

I’ve always wondered why it’s and its confuse anybody, but they clearly do because I see it all the time, including in newspapers.  Is it because English teachers don’t drum it into kids’ heads early and often enough?  It’s one of those things, like the use of lie and lay, that need to be drummed in because it’s easy to get confused.  In English we form possessive pronouns differently from the way we form other possessives, e.g.,  “Pavarotti’s voice was distinctive” but “its engine was broken.”

Chicago_manualHowever, while I can–sort of, and with sorrow in my heart–understand how apostrophes get misplaced, I have never figured out how apostrophes got into the plurals business–as in “Banana’s 89¢ a pound” or “keeping up with the Jones’s.”

Here is one approach to explaining the correct way to use apostrophes.  Here's a politer version of same.  And here are many examples of punctuation abuse.

A few years ago, Lynn Truss got so exasperated with stupid punctuation that she wrote a book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, about it.  Funny thing is, the book’s loaded with…um…punctuation errors.  Louis Menand, in the New Yorker (28 June 2004), reviewed her book, and suspected it was a hoax, because the errors, he said, started in the dedication and continued with gay abandon throughout the book.

In Jasper Fforde’s alternate reality novel, The Eyre Affair, a form of specially engineered bookworms (as in actual larval things, not nerds–and I cannot possibly get into the technical capabilities of these bookworms) excrete apostrophes.  That would explain the wretched excess.

Here's one proposed solution to apostrophe atrocities: abolish that little squiggle.

Fowler_the_kings_englishI don’t agree.  I’ve devoted my life to the English language, trying to master its intricacies.  Punctuation, grammar–all those dull, technical matters to me are part of the big game of exploring the expressive possibilities of a remarkably elastic language.  To eradicate a punctuation mark is like eliminating, say, metaphors.  Yes, it would make things simpler, but should language always be simple?  A straight line is the shortest distance between two points, but it’s not necessarily the most beautiful route.

But that’s just me.  Now it’s your turn.  Got a pet punctuation peeve?  An example of demented punctuation?  An argument for or against abolishing a particular punctuation mark?  A strange punctuation experience?  A profound indifference?

This is the place.  Now’s the time.

180 thoughts on “The Angry Apostrophe”

  1. Sherrie, here.
    Loretta, I’m with you. Punctuation errors drive me nuts. If I had a penny for every y’all spelled “ya’ll,” I’d be rich. And let’s add “alot” and “alright” to the list.
    I confess that when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes accidentally write it’s instead of its or your instead of you’re. I used to constantly get lie/lay wrong until I drilled it into my head.
    And I could never get further/farther right until I realized that farther is used for distance only. He had 10 miles farther to go. If you aren’t talking about distance, then use further.
    The two that still trip me up are fewer and less. I always have to look those up!

    Reply
  2. Sherrie, here.
    Loretta, I’m with you. Punctuation errors drive me nuts. If I had a penny for every y’all spelled “ya’ll,” I’d be rich. And let’s add “alot” and “alright” to the list.
    I confess that when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes accidentally write it’s instead of its or your instead of you’re. I used to constantly get lie/lay wrong until I drilled it into my head.
    And I could never get further/farther right until I realized that farther is used for distance only. He had 10 miles farther to go. If you aren’t talking about distance, then use further.
    The two that still trip me up are fewer and less. I always have to look those up!

    Reply
  3. Sherrie, here.
    Loretta, I’m with you. Punctuation errors drive me nuts. If I had a penny for every y’all spelled “ya’ll,” I’d be rich. And let’s add “alot” and “alright” to the list.
    I confess that when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes accidentally write it’s instead of its or your instead of you’re. I used to constantly get lie/lay wrong until I drilled it into my head.
    And I could never get further/farther right until I realized that farther is used for distance only. He had 10 miles farther to go. If you aren’t talking about distance, then use further.
    The two that still trip me up are fewer and less. I always have to look those up!

    Reply
  4. Sherrie, here.
    Loretta, I’m with you. Punctuation errors drive me nuts. If I had a penny for every y’all spelled “ya’ll,” I’d be rich. And let’s add “alot” and “alright” to the list.
    I confess that when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes accidentally write it’s instead of its or your instead of you’re. I used to constantly get lie/lay wrong until I drilled it into my head.
    And I could never get further/farther right until I realized that farther is used for distance only. He had 10 miles farther to go. If you aren’t talking about distance, then use further.
    The two that still trip me up are fewer and less. I always have to look those up!

    Reply
  5. Sherrie, here.
    Loretta, I’m with you. Punctuation errors drive me nuts. If I had a penny for every y’all spelled “ya’ll,” I’d be rich. And let’s add “alot” and “alright” to the list.
    I confess that when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes accidentally write it’s instead of its or your instead of you’re. I used to constantly get lie/lay wrong until I drilled it into my head.
    And I could never get further/farther right until I realized that farther is used for distance only. He had 10 miles farther to go. If you aren’t talking about distance, then use further.
    The two that still trip me up are fewer and less. I always have to look those up!

    Reply
  6. Let me argue the other side: punctuation, like spelling, is just a system of notation, and therefore arbitrary. After all, the rules about it’s and its might just as well have been the other way around. And the rules could always be changed; there’s something to be said for changing the very archaic spelling of English, which has very little to do with how words are pronounced. One letter = one sound is a very good principle to base a spelling on, and English spelling has wandered very far away from it.
    In my mother tongue (Dutch) the genitive S is used without an apostrophe, except when the word ends in a vowel. For instance: Loretta’s blog, Ingrids comment. The plural S also gets an apostrophe in the case of a vowel. Hence the plural baby’s. No doubt you think it looks horrible, but it’s properly spelled Dutch.
    In case you get the wrong idea, the Dutch are just as hidebound about spelling changes as English speakers. There is a committee that proposes a few minor spelling changes every ten years, and they always lead to outrage.

    Reply
  7. Let me argue the other side: punctuation, like spelling, is just a system of notation, and therefore arbitrary. After all, the rules about it’s and its might just as well have been the other way around. And the rules could always be changed; there’s something to be said for changing the very archaic spelling of English, which has very little to do with how words are pronounced. One letter = one sound is a very good principle to base a spelling on, and English spelling has wandered very far away from it.
    In my mother tongue (Dutch) the genitive S is used without an apostrophe, except when the word ends in a vowel. For instance: Loretta’s blog, Ingrids comment. The plural S also gets an apostrophe in the case of a vowel. Hence the plural baby’s. No doubt you think it looks horrible, but it’s properly spelled Dutch.
    In case you get the wrong idea, the Dutch are just as hidebound about spelling changes as English speakers. There is a committee that proposes a few minor spelling changes every ten years, and they always lead to outrage.

    Reply
  8. Let me argue the other side: punctuation, like spelling, is just a system of notation, and therefore arbitrary. After all, the rules about it’s and its might just as well have been the other way around. And the rules could always be changed; there’s something to be said for changing the very archaic spelling of English, which has very little to do with how words are pronounced. One letter = one sound is a very good principle to base a spelling on, and English spelling has wandered very far away from it.
    In my mother tongue (Dutch) the genitive S is used without an apostrophe, except when the word ends in a vowel. For instance: Loretta’s blog, Ingrids comment. The plural S also gets an apostrophe in the case of a vowel. Hence the plural baby’s. No doubt you think it looks horrible, but it’s properly spelled Dutch.
    In case you get the wrong idea, the Dutch are just as hidebound about spelling changes as English speakers. There is a committee that proposes a few minor spelling changes every ten years, and they always lead to outrage.

    Reply
  9. Let me argue the other side: punctuation, like spelling, is just a system of notation, and therefore arbitrary. After all, the rules about it’s and its might just as well have been the other way around. And the rules could always be changed; there’s something to be said for changing the very archaic spelling of English, which has very little to do with how words are pronounced. One letter = one sound is a very good principle to base a spelling on, and English spelling has wandered very far away from it.
    In my mother tongue (Dutch) the genitive S is used without an apostrophe, except when the word ends in a vowel. For instance: Loretta’s blog, Ingrids comment. The plural S also gets an apostrophe in the case of a vowel. Hence the plural baby’s. No doubt you think it looks horrible, but it’s properly spelled Dutch.
    In case you get the wrong idea, the Dutch are just as hidebound about spelling changes as English speakers. There is a committee that proposes a few minor spelling changes every ten years, and they always lead to outrage.

    Reply
  10. Let me argue the other side: punctuation, like spelling, is just a system of notation, and therefore arbitrary. After all, the rules about it’s and its might just as well have been the other way around. And the rules could always be changed; there’s something to be said for changing the very archaic spelling of English, which has very little to do with how words are pronounced. One letter = one sound is a very good principle to base a spelling on, and English spelling has wandered very far away from it.
    In my mother tongue (Dutch) the genitive S is used without an apostrophe, except when the word ends in a vowel. For instance: Loretta’s blog, Ingrids comment. The plural S also gets an apostrophe in the case of a vowel. Hence the plural baby’s. No doubt you think it looks horrible, but it’s properly spelled Dutch.
    In case you get the wrong idea, the Dutch are just as hidebound about spelling changes as English speakers. There is a committee that proposes a few minor spelling changes every ten years, and they always lead to outrage.

    Reply
  11. Let me start off by saying; I hate punctuation! It is the bane of my existence!!
    (like the exclamation points? 😉 )
    I am forced to keep a guide to punctuation at hand when I write, which is rather demeaning to me, but then again, I think the less we write during our lifetime, the more lax we become with the rules until we don’t remember them.
    However, I have a friend who has recently decided to give writing short stories a try. She has a wonderful, unique voice, and a penchant for using commas everywhere.
    It got to the point with every critiqued chapter or snippet, so red you could barely read the original words, I returned to her that she finally put a jab at herself into her signature line on the board we’re on.
    “I never met a comma I couldn’t misuse”
    It fits her perfectly.
    Should there be a comma between her and that above?
    Did I mention how much I hate punctuation?
    *sigh*

    Reply
  12. Let me start off by saying; I hate punctuation! It is the bane of my existence!!
    (like the exclamation points? 😉 )
    I am forced to keep a guide to punctuation at hand when I write, which is rather demeaning to me, but then again, I think the less we write during our lifetime, the more lax we become with the rules until we don’t remember them.
    However, I have a friend who has recently decided to give writing short stories a try. She has a wonderful, unique voice, and a penchant for using commas everywhere.
    It got to the point with every critiqued chapter or snippet, so red you could barely read the original words, I returned to her that she finally put a jab at herself into her signature line on the board we’re on.
    “I never met a comma I couldn’t misuse”
    It fits her perfectly.
    Should there be a comma between her and that above?
    Did I mention how much I hate punctuation?
    *sigh*

    Reply
  13. Let me start off by saying; I hate punctuation! It is the bane of my existence!!
    (like the exclamation points? 😉 )
    I am forced to keep a guide to punctuation at hand when I write, which is rather demeaning to me, but then again, I think the less we write during our lifetime, the more lax we become with the rules until we don’t remember them.
    However, I have a friend who has recently decided to give writing short stories a try. She has a wonderful, unique voice, and a penchant for using commas everywhere.
    It got to the point with every critiqued chapter or snippet, so red you could barely read the original words, I returned to her that she finally put a jab at herself into her signature line on the board we’re on.
    “I never met a comma I couldn’t misuse”
    It fits her perfectly.
    Should there be a comma between her and that above?
    Did I mention how much I hate punctuation?
    *sigh*

    Reply
  14. Let me start off by saying; I hate punctuation! It is the bane of my existence!!
    (like the exclamation points? 😉 )
    I am forced to keep a guide to punctuation at hand when I write, which is rather demeaning to me, but then again, I think the less we write during our lifetime, the more lax we become with the rules until we don’t remember them.
    However, I have a friend who has recently decided to give writing short stories a try. She has a wonderful, unique voice, and a penchant for using commas everywhere.
    It got to the point with every critiqued chapter or snippet, so red you could barely read the original words, I returned to her that she finally put a jab at herself into her signature line on the board we’re on.
    “I never met a comma I couldn’t misuse”
    It fits her perfectly.
    Should there be a comma between her and that above?
    Did I mention how much I hate punctuation?
    *sigh*

    Reply
  15. Let me start off by saying; I hate punctuation! It is the bane of my existence!!
    (like the exclamation points? 😉 )
    I am forced to keep a guide to punctuation at hand when I write, which is rather demeaning to me, but then again, I think the less we write during our lifetime, the more lax we become with the rules until we don’t remember them.
    However, I have a friend who has recently decided to give writing short stories a try. She has a wonderful, unique voice, and a penchant for using commas everywhere.
    It got to the point with every critiqued chapter or snippet, so red you could barely read the original words, I returned to her that she finally put a jab at herself into her signature line on the board we’re on.
    “I never met a comma I couldn’t misuse”
    It fits her perfectly.
    Should there be a comma between her and that above?
    Did I mention how much I hate punctuation?
    *sigh*

    Reply
  16. Loretta, the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH! The reviewer does, rather grudgingly, eventually concede that there are AE/BE differences in punctuation rules, but if he realised this, he really had no right to lambast the author in the way he does. All he needed to say was, ‘this book is written in British English, so the rules and faults noted here do not always apply in American English’.
    For example, all that stuff about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is simply not an issue in British (or related Commonwealth) English at all, and is a comparatively modern rule even in American. BE does not agonise over ‘which’ and ‘that’ and the presence or absence of commas in relation to them.
    Truss will undoubtedly have followed the invaluable Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and its companion volume Hart’s Rules. If an American were writing a similar book, he/she would, no doubt, be checking with the Chicago Manual.
    On the general matter of punctuation, although, like everything in language, it changes a little over the generations, its correct use is an aid to clear communication, and communication is the purpose of language. Punctuation is not difficult, and those who find it so have usually not been introduced to it early enough.
    The reason why people get tied up in knots over ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably because the former is an exception to the usual practice with ‘s’ indicating a genitive case. We normally use an apostrophe to indicate the genitive, probably because the original case-ending was the ‘es’ Saxon genitive, so there was once a contraction. ‘Its’ as in, ‘The book got wet: its pages are all stuck together’ is therefore confusing to many, as it does not line up with the usual possessive ‘s. It would make quite a lot of sense to give up the apostrophe completely for genitive cases (as in German), and use it only where letters have been omitted.
    🙂

    Reply
  17. Loretta, the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH! The reviewer does, rather grudgingly, eventually concede that there are AE/BE differences in punctuation rules, but if he realised this, he really had no right to lambast the author in the way he does. All he needed to say was, ‘this book is written in British English, so the rules and faults noted here do not always apply in American English’.
    For example, all that stuff about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is simply not an issue in British (or related Commonwealth) English at all, and is a comparatively modern rule even in American. BE does not agonise over ‘which’ and ‘that’ and the presence or absence of commas in relation to them.
    Truss will undoubtedly have followed the invaluable Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and its companion volume Hart’s Rules. If an American were writing a similar book, he/she would, no doubt, be checking with the Chicago Manual.
    On the general matter of punctuation, although, like everything in language, it changes a little over the generations, its correct use is an aid to clear communication, and communication is the purpose of language. Punctuation is not difficult, and those who find it so have usually not been introduced to it early enough.
    The reason why people get tied up in knots over ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably because the former is an exception to the usual practice with ‘s’ indicating a genitive case. We normally use an apostrophe to indicate the genitive, probably because the original case-ending was the ‘es’ Saxon genitive, so there was once a contraction. ‘Its’ as in, ‘The book got wet: its pages are all stuck together’ is therefore confusing to many, as it does not line up with the usual possessive ‘s. It would make quite a lot of sense to give up the apostrophe completely for genitive cases (as in German), and use it only where letters have been omitted.
    🙂

    Reply
  18. Loretta, the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH! The reviewer does, rather grudgingly, eventually concede that there are AE/BE differences in punctuation rules, but if he realised this, he really had no right to lambast the author in the way he does. All he needed to say was, ‘this book is written in British English, so the rules and faults noted here do not always apply in American English’.
    For example, all that stuff about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is simply not an issue in British (or related Commonwealth) English at all, and is a comparatively modern rule even in American. BE does not agonise over ‘which’ and ‘that’ and the presence or absence of commas in relation to them.
    Truss will undoubtedly have followed the invaluable Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and its companion volume Hart’s Rules. If an American were writing a similar book, he/she would, no doubt, be checking with the Chicago Manual.
    On the general matter of punctuation, although, like everything in language, it changes a little over the generations, its correct use is an aid to clear communication, and communication is the purpose of language. Punctuation is not difficult, and those who find it so have usually not been introduced to it early enough.
    The reason why people get tied up in knots over ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably because the former is an exception to the usual practice with ‘s’ indicating a genitive case. We normally use an apostrophe to indicate the genitive, probably because the original case-ending was the ‘es’ Saxon genitive, so there was once a contraction. ‘Its’ as in, ‘The book got wet: its pages are all stuck together’ is therefore confusing to many, as it does not line up with the usual possessive ‘s. It would make quite a lot of sense to give up the apostrophe completely for genitive cases (as in German), and use it only where letters have been omitted.
    🙂

    Reply
  19. Loretta, the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH! The reviewer does, rather grudgingly, eventually concede that there are AE/BE differences in punctuation rules, but if he realised this, he really had no right to lambast the author in the way he does. All he needed to say was, ‘this book is written in British English, so the rules and faults noted here do not always apply in American English’.
    For example, all that stuff about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is simply not an issue in British (or related Commonwealth) English at all, and is a comparatively modern rule even in American. BE does not agonise over ‘which’ and ‘that’ and the presence or absence of commas in relation to them.
    Truss will undoubtedly have followed the invaluable Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and its companion volume Hart’s Rules. If an American were writing a similar book, he/she would, no doubt, be checking with the Chicago Manual.
    On the general matter of punctuation, although, like everything in language, it changes a little over the generations, its correct use is an aid to clear communication, and communication is the purpose of language. Punctuation is not difficult, and those who find it so have usually not been introduced to it early enough.
    The reason why people get tied up in knots over ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably because the former is an exception to the usual practice with ‘s’ indicating a genitive case. We normally use an apostrophe to indicate the genitive, probably because the original case-ending was the ‘es’ Saxon genitive, so there was once a contraction. ‘Its’ as in, ‘The book got wet: its pages are all stuck together’ is therefore confusing to many, as it does not line up with the usual possessive ‘s. It would make quite a lot of sense to give up the apostrophe completely for genitive cases (as in German), and use it only where letters have been omitted.
    🙂

    Reply
  20. Loretta, the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH! The reviewer does, rather grudgingly, eventually concede that there are AE/BE differences in punctuation rules, but if he realised this, he really had no right to lambast the author in the way he does. All he needed to say was, ‘this book is written in British English, so the rules and faults noted here do not always apply in American English’.
    For example, all that stuff about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is simply not an issue in British (or related Commonwealth) English at all, and is a comparatively modern rule even in American. BE does not agonise over ‘which’ and ‘that’ and the presence or absence of commas in relation to them.
    Truss will undoubtedly have followed the invaluable Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and its companion volume Hart’s Rules. If an American were writing a similar book, he/she would, no doubt, be checking with the Chicago Manual.
    On the general matter of punctuation, although, like everything in language, it changes a little over the generations, its correct use is an aid to clear communication, and communication is the purpose of language. Punctuation is not difficult, and those who find it so have usually not been introduced to it early enough.
    The reason why people get tied up in knots over ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably because the former is an exception to the usual practice with ‘s’ indicating a genitive case. We normally use an apostrophe to indicate the genitive, probably because the original case-ending was the ‘es’ Saxon genitive, so there was once a contraction. ‘Its’ as in, ‘The book got wet: its pages are all stuck together’ is therefore confusing to many, as it does not line up with the usual possessive ‘s. It would make quite a lot of sense to give up the apostrophe completely for genitive cases (as in German), and use it only where letters have been omitted.
    🙂

    Reply
  21. My granddaughter, not quite 2 years old, has discovered possessives and loves them. There’s “daddy’s” and “mommy’s” and, by logical extention I suppose, there’s “my’s”.
    If only English (BE or AE) was a logical language!

    Reply
  22. My granddaughter, not quite 2 years old, has discovered possessives and loves them. There’s “daddy’s” and “mommy’s” and, by logical extention I suppose, there’s “my’s”.
    If only English (BE or AE) was a logical language!

    Reply
  23. My granddaughter, not quite 2 years old, has discovered possessives and loves them. There’s “daddy’s” and “mommy’s” and, by logical extention I suppose, there’s “my’s”.
    If only English (BE or AE) was a logical language!

    Reply
  24. My granddaughter, not quite 2 years old, has discovered possessives and loves them. There’s “daddy’s” and “mommy’s” and, by logical extention I suppose, there’s “my’s”.
    If only English (BE or AE) was a logical language!

    Reply
  25. My granddaughter, not quite 2 years old, has discovered possessives and loves them. There’s “daddy’s” and “mommy’s” and, by logical extention I suppose, there’s “my’s”.
    If only English (BE or AE) was a logical language!

    Reply
  26. I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.
    I got stuck on “it’s” and “its” until I found a simple rule: If you can replace the word with “it is”, the correct form is “it’s”.
    It’s over here. (It is over here.)
    Its color is yellow. (It is color is yellow.) Nope, so “its” is correct.
    As for lie/lay, lay takes an object, lie does not. Again a simple rule:
    Lay the paper on the table.
    NOT lie the paper on the table.
    The paper lies on the table.
    I had to think about these rules for a while before they made sense. I still do.
    Language is all we have for paper communication. You must write correctly if you want to convey exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be sloppy with it.

    Reply
  27. I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.
    I got stuck on “it’s” and “its” until I found a simple rule: If you can replace the word with “it is”, the correct form is “it’s”.
    It’s over here. (It is over here.)
    Its color is yellow. (It is color is yellow.) Nope, so “its” is correct.
    As for lie/lay, lay takes an object, lie does not. Again a simple rule:
    Lay the paper on the table.
    NOT lie the paper on the table.
    The paper lies on the table.
    I had to think about these rules for a while before they made sense. I still do.
    Language is all we have for paper communication. You must write correctly if you want to convey exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be sloppy with it.

    Reply
  28. I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.
    I got stuck on “it’s” and “its” until I found a simple rule: If you can replace the word with “it is”, the correct form is “it’s”.
    It’s over here. (It is over here.)
    Its color is yellow. (It is color is yellow.) Nope, so “its” is correct.
    As for lie/lay, lay takes an object, lie does not. Again a simple rule:
    Lay the paper on the table.
    NOT lie the paper on the table.
    The paper lies on the table.
    I had to think about these rules for a while before they made sense. I still do.
    Language is all we have for paper communication. You must write correctly if you want to convey exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be sloppy with it.

    Reply
  29. I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.
    I got stuck on “it’s” and “its” until I found a simple rule: If you can replace the word with “it is”, the correct form is “it’s”.
    It’s over here. (It is over here.)
    Its color is yellow. (It is color is yellow.) Nope, so “its” is correct.
    As for lie/lay, lay takes an object, lie does not. Again a simple rule:
    Lay the paper on the table.
    NOT lie the paper on the table.
    The paper lies on the table.
    I had to think about these rules for a while before they made sense. I still do.
    Language is all we have for paper communication. You must write correctly if you want to convey exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be sloppy with it.

    Reply
  30. I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.
    I got stuck on “it’s” and “its” until I found a simple rule: If you can replace the word with “it is”, the correct form is “it’s”.
    It’s over here. (It is over here.)
    Its color is yellow. (It is color is yellow.) Nope, so “its” is correct.
    As for lie/lay, lay takes an object, lie does not. Again a simple rule:
    Lay the paper on the table.
    NOT lie the paper on the table.
    The paper lies on the table.
    I had to think about these rules for a while before they made sense. I still do.
    Language is all we have for paper communication. You must write correctly if you want to convey exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be sloppy with it.

    Reply
  31. I once read in sequence a book published in the late 19th century and a book published in the late 20th century. The first was so loaded with commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant. The second had so few commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant.
    I still punctuate according to the rules Miss Yeoman drummed into me half a century ago when I was in high school. I infinitely prefer those rules to the casual “put in a comma wherever you would take a breath” (the rule my children were offered in high school). Nonetheless, I try to remember that language is living, and the goal is clarity. Consistency helps.
    My own pet peeve is a combination punctuation and usage error — “however” used as a conjuction with only a comma separating the two independent clauses. I fear I sound excessively pedantic, and the language is clearly changing in a way that will allow such usage, but in the meantime IT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

    Reply
  32. I once read in sequence a book published in the late 19th century and a book published in the late 20th century. The first was so loaded with commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant. The second had so few commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant.
    I still punctuate according to the rules Miss Yeoman drummed into me half a century ago when I was in high school. I infinitely prefer those rules to the casual “put in a comma wherever you would take a breath” (the rule my children were offered in high school). Nonetheless, I try to remember that language is living, and the goal is clarity. Consistency helps.
    My own pet peeve is a combination punctuation and usage error — “however” used as a conjuction with only a comma separating the two independent clauses. I fear I sound excessively pedantic, and the language is clearly changing in a way that will allow such usage, but in the meantime IT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

    Reply
  33. I once read in sequence a book published in the late 19th century and a book published in the late 20th century. The first was so loaded with commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant. The second had so few commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant.
    I still punctuate according to the rules Miss Yeoman drummed into me half a century ago when I was in high school. I infinitely prefer those rules to the casual “put in a comma wherever you would take a breath” (the rule my children were offered in high school). Nonetheless, I try to remember that language is living, and the goal is clarity. Consistency helps.
    My own pet peeve is a combination punctuation and usage error — “however” used as a conjuction with only a comma separating the two independent clauses. I fear I sound excessively pedantic, and the language is clearly changing in a way that will allow such usage, but in the meantime IT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

    Reply
  34. I once read in sequence a book published in the late 19th century and a book published in the late 20th century. The first was so loaded with commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant. The second had so few commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant.
    I still punctuate according to the rules Miss Yeoman drummed into me half a century ago when I was in high school. I infinitely prefer those rules to the casual “put in a comma wherever you would take a breath” (the rule my children were offered in high school). Nonetheless, I try to remember that language is living, and the goal is clarity. Consistency helps.
    My own pet peeve is a combination punctuation and usage error — “however” used as a conjuction with only a comma separating the two independent clauses. I fear I sound excessively pedantic, and the language is clearly changing in a way that will allow such usage, but in the meantime IT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

    Reply
  35. I once read in sequence a book published in the late 19th century and a book published in the late 20th century. The first was so loaded with commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant. The second had so few commas that I had to keep rereading sentences to figure out what the author meant.
    I still punctuate according to the rules Miss Yeoman drummed into me half a century ago when I was in high school. I infinitely prefer those rules to the casual “put in a comma wherever you would take a breath” (the rule my children were offered in high school). Nonetheless, I try to remember that language is living, and the goal is clarity. Consistency helps.
    My own pet peeve is a combination punctuation and usage error — “however” used as a conjuction with only a comma separating the two independent clauses. I fear I sound excessively pedantic, and the language is clearly changing in a way that will allow such usage, but in the meantime IT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

    Reply
  36. “the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH!”
    AgTigress, I agree that some of what Menand calls “errors” really aren’t, but have you read the book? I find it a strange mishmash of usages; it looks to me like Truss’ relatively unreflected personal preferences rather than a consistent system. Overall I agree with Menand, though not on all the specifics. And that, I think, is the key: not all rules are universal. Grammar and punctuation errors irritate me, but only some are important to meaning, whereas others are points of style.
    ^ BTW, please note my use of the semicolon, the apostrophe with no trailing S (Truss’), and starting a sentence with a conjunction 🙂 All three, along with the split infinitive, are styles that I was taught to use at one school, then scolded for at another school!

    Reply
  37. “the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH!”
    AgTigress, I agree that some of what Menand calls “errors” really aren’t, but have you read the book? I find it a strange mishmash of usages; it looks to me like Truss’ relatively unreflected personal preferences rather than a consistent system. Overall I agree with Menand, though not on all the specifics. And that, I think, is the key: not all rules are universal. Grammar and punctuation errors irritate me, but only some are important to meaning, whereas others are points of style.
    ^ BTW, please note my use of the semicolon, the apostrophe with no trailing S (Truss’), and starting a sentence with a conjunction 🙂 All three, along with the split infinitive, are styles that I was taught to use at one school, then scolded for at another school!

    Reply
  38. “the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH!”
    AgTigress, I agree that some of what Menand calls “errors” really aren’t, but have you read the book? I find it a strange mishmash of usages; it looks to me like Truss’ relatively unreflected personal preferences rather than a consistent system. Overall I agree with Menand, though not on all the specifics. And that, I think, is the key: not all rules are universal. Grammar and punctuation errors irritate me, but only some are important to meaning, whereas others are points of style.
    ^ BTW, please note my use of the semicolon, the apostrophe with no trailing S (Truss’), and starting a sentence with a conjunction 🙂 All three, along with the split infinitive, are styles that I was taught to use at one school, then scolded for at another school!

    Reply
  39. “the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH!”
    AgTigress, I agree that some of what Menand calls “errors” really aren’t, but have you read the book? I find it a strange mishmash of usages; it looks to me like Truss’ relatively unreflected personal preferences rather than a consistent system. Overall I agree with Menand, though not on all the specifics. And that, I think, is the key: not all rules are universal. Grammar and punctuation errors irritate me, but only some are important to meaning, whereas others are points of style.
    ^ BTW, please note my use of the semicolon, the apostrophe with no trailing S (Truss’), and starting a sentence with a conjunction 🙂 All three, along with the split infinitive, are styles that I was taught to use at one school, then scolded for at another school!

    Reply
  40. “the hostile review of Truss’s book in the New Yorker flags up as ‘errors’ usages that are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN BRITISH ENGLISH!”
    AgTigress, I agree that some of what Menand calls “errors” really aren’t, but have you read the book? I find it a strange mishmash of usages; it looks to me like Truss’ relatively unreflected personal preferences rather than a consistent system. Overall I agree with Menand, though not on all the specifics. And that, I think, is the key: not all rules are universal. Grammar and punctuation errors irritate me, but only some are important to meaning, whereas others are points of style.
    ^ BTW, please note my use of the semicolon, the apostrophe with no trailing S (Truss’), and starting a sentence with a conjunction 🙂 All three, along with the split infinitive, are styles that I was taught to use at one school, then scolded for at another school!

    Reply
  41. British English doesn’t have a ‘farther/further’ problem: we use the latter in both metaphorical and literal contexts (e.g. ‘my friend’s house is further away than my mother’s’), and ‘farther’ is rather a rare variant.
    Thus, if somebody were to criticise (yes, that’s how we spell it!) the sentence above for not using ‘farther’, that criticism would be invalid if the writer was using British/Commonwealth English.
    🙂

    Reply
  42. British English doesn’t have a ‘farther/further’ problem: we use the latter in both metaphorical and literal contexts (e.g. ‘my friend’s house is further away than my mother’s’), and ‘farther’ is rather a rare variant.
    Thus, if somebody were to criticise (yes, that’s how we spell it!) the sentence above for not using ‘farther’, that criticism would be invalid if the writer was using British/Commonwealth English.
    🙂

    Reply
  43. British English doesn’t have a ‘farther/further’ problem: we use the latter in both metaphorical and literal contexts (e.g. ‘my friend’s house is further away than my mother’s’), and ‘farther’ is rather a rare variant.
    Thus, if somebody were to criticise (yes, that’s how we spell it!) the sentence above for not using ‘farther’, that criticism would be invalid if the writer was using British/Commonwealth English.
    🙂

    Reply
  44. British English doesn’t have a ‘farther/further’ problem: we use the latter in both metaphorical and literal contexts (e.g. ‘my friend’s house is further away than my mother’s’), and ‘farther’ is rather a rare variant.
    Thus, if somebody were to criticise (yes, that’s how we spell it!) the sentence above for not using ‘farther’, that criticism would be invalid if the writer was using British/Commonwealth English.
    🙂

    Reply
  45. British English doesn’t have a ‘farther/further’ problem: we use the latter in both metaphorical and literal contexts (e.g. ‘my friend’s house is further away than my mother’s’), and ‘farther’ is rather a rare variant.
    Thus, if somebody were to criticise (yes, that’s how we spell it!) the sentence above for not using ‘farther’, that criticism would be invalid if the writer was using British/Commonwealth English.
    🙂

    Reply
  46. Want to get confused as to how to punctuate and spell? Try being Canadian. We’re halfway between the British and American usages – I think we’re supposed to use the British, but the Americans think we’re crazy every time we do. It’s like being the kid of divorcing parents.
    I didn’t know there were errors in Truss’s book; I’ll have to read it again. The semicolon chapter was my favourite (yes, that’s how we spell it in Canada.)

    Reply
  47. Want to get confused as to how to punctuate and spell? Try being Canadian. We’re halfway between the British and American usages – I think we’re supposed to use the British, but the Americans think we’re crazy every time we do. It’s like being the kid of divorcing parents.
    I didn’t know there were errors in Truss’s book; I’ll have to read it again. The semicolon chapter was my favourite (yes, that’s how we spell it in Canada.)

    Reply
  48. Want to get confused as to how to punctuate and spell? Try being Canadian. We’re halfway between the British and American usages – I think we’re supposed to use the British, but the Americans think we’re crazy every time we do. It’s like being the kid of divorcing parents.
    I didn’t know there were errors in Truss’s book; I’ll have to read it again. The semicolon chapter was my favourite (yes, that’s how we spell it in Canada.)

    Reply
  49. Want to get confused as to how to punctuate and spell? Try being Canadian. We’re halfway between the British and American usages – I think we’re supposed to use the British, but the Americans think we’re crazy every time we do. It’s like being the kid of divorcing parents.
    I didn’t know there were errors in Truss’s book; I’ll have to read it again. The semicolon chapter was my favourite (yes, that’s how we spell it in Canada.)

    Reply
  50. Want to get confused as to how to punctuate and spell? Try being Canadian. We’re halfway between the British and American usages – I think we’re supposed to use the British, but the Americans think we’re crazy every time we do. It’s like being the kid of divorcing parents.
    I didn’t know there were errors in Truss’s book; I’ll have to read it again. The semicolon chapter was my favourite (yes, that’s how we spell it in Canada.)

    Reply
  51. RfP: yes, I have read Truss’s book. I fully agree with you that many usages are not universal even within the same dialect. For example, the ‘–ise’ ending is our normal one in BE, but OUP prefers the AE-style ‘–ize’ (while also accepting –ise as correct). Thus, publishing houses whose house-styles closely follow Oxford, including my publishers, choose the z form. I just write normally and leave it to the poor old copy-editor to change ’em all. 😀
    The matter of ‘Truss’s’ or ‘Truss’ ‘ is also a house-style question if one is writing for publication. Both are acceptable, but some publishers will favour one over the other.
    Beginning sentences with conjunctions, ending them with prepositions and splitting infinitives are all undoubtedly matters of purely personal style and taste. Only the over-prescriptive grammar rules of relatively recent (19th-20th century) times have turned them into an issue. This kind of prescriptivism is still going on, with the exclusively American concern about the use of clauses with ‘that’ and ‘which’, the very first point that the reviewer of Truss’s book falsely jumped on as ‘incorrect’.
    We are all familiar with the obvious differences of spelling in AE and BE, but it is not always so widely realised that there are differences of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, too. And your point, that many of these problems are not down to hard and fast rules, but to custom and practice – and publishers’ house-styles – is also one that should be taken into account.
    I remember how startled I was when I first read, in an American novel, that somebody’s car ‘careened’ down the road. ‘Careening’, in BE, means only ‘to scrape down and clean the hull of a boat’ (from L. carina, a keel): it’s a fairly specialised word. The verb we use for ‘travelling in a rapid and erratic manner’ is ‘career’. I have discovered that the latter meaning for ‘careen’ is an accepted dictionary definition in AE, so my first reaction, that the novelist had made a mistake, was WRONG, because she was writing American English.
    I once made an error that I now regret in reviewing an American book. I took the author to task for using the word ‘weasel’ when he meant ‘ferret’: I had no idea then that in AE, ‘weasel’ can be used generically of several mustelid species, including ferrets. In BE, it is species-specific, so that weasels and ferrets, though related, are mutually exclusive.
    I could go on like this endlessly, but I’ll give you all a break…

    Reply
  52. RfP: yes, I have read Truss’s book. I fully agree with you that many usages are not universal even within the same dialect. For example, the ‘–ise’ ending is our normal one in BE, but OUP prefers the AE-style ‘–ize’ (while also accepting –ise as correct). Thus, publishing houses whose house-styles closely follow Oxford, including my publishers, choose the z form. I just write normally and leave it to the poor old copy-editor to change ’em all. 😀
    The matter of ‘Truss’s’ or ‘Truss’ ‘ is also a house-style question if one is writing for publication. Both are acceptable, but some publishers will favour one over the other.
    Beginning sentences with conjunctions, ending them with prepositions and splitting infinitives are all undoubtedly matters of purely personal style and taste. Only the over-prescriptive grammar rules of relatively recent (19th-20th century) times have turned them into an issue. This kind of prescriptivism is still going on, with the exclusively American concern about the use of clauses with ‘that’ and ‘which’, the very first point that the reviewer of Truss’s book falsely jumped on as ‘incorrect’.
    We are all familiar with the obvious differences of spelling in AE and BE, but it is not always so widely realised that there are differences of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, too. And your point, that many of these problems are not down to hard and fast rules, but to custom and practice – and publishers’ house-styles – is also one that should be taken into account.
    I remember how startled I was when I first read, in an American novel, that somebody’s car ‘careened’ down the road. ‘Careening’, in BE, means only ‘to scrape down and clean the hull of a boat’ (from L. carina, a keel): it’s a fairly specialised word. The verb we use for ‘travelling in a rapid and erratic manner’ is ‘career’. I have discovered that the latter meaning for ‘careen’ is an accepted dictionary definition in AE, so my first reaction, that the novelist had made a mistake, was WRONG, because she was writing American English.
    I once made an error that I now regret in reviewing an American book. I took the author to task for using the word ‘weasel’ when he meant ‘ferret’: I had no idea then that in AE, ‘weasel’ can be used generically of several mustelid species, including ferrets. In BE, it is species-specific, so that weasels and ferrets, though related, are mutually exclusive.
    I could go on like this endlessly, but I’ll give you all a break…

    Reply
  53. RfP: yes, I have read Truss’s book. I fully agree with you that many usages are not universal even within the same dialect. For example, the ‘–ise’ ending is our normal one in BE, but OUP prefers the AE-style ‘–ize’ (while also accepting –ise as correct). Thus, publishing houses whose house-styles closely follow Oxford, including my publishers, choose the z form. I just write normally and leave it to the poor old copy-editor to change ’em all. 😀
    The matter of ‘Truss’s’ or ‘Truss’ ‘ is also a house-style question if one is writing for publication. Both are acceptable, but some publishers will favour one over the other.
    Beginning sentences with conjunctions, ending them with prepositions and splitting infinitives are all undoubtedly matters of purely personal style and taste. Only the over-prescriptive grammar rules of relatively recent (19th-20th century) times have turned them into an issue. This kind of prescriptivism is still going on, with the exclusively American concern about the use of clauses with ‘that’ and ‘which’, the very first point that the reviewer of Truss’s book falsely jumped on as ‘incorrect’.
    We are all familiar with the obvious differences of spelling in AE and BE, but it is not always so widely realised that there are differences of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, too. And your point, that many of these problems are not down to hard and fast rules, but to custom and practice – and publishers’ house-styles – is also one that should be taken into account.
    I remember how startled I was when I first read, in an American novel, that somebody’s car ‘careened’ down the road. ‘Careening’, in BE, means only ‘to scrape down and clean the hull of a boat’ (from L. carina, a keel): it’s a fairly specialised word. The verb we use for ‘travelling in a rapid and erratic manner’ is ‘career’. I have discovered that the latter meaning for ‘careen’ is an accepted dictionary definition in AE, so my first reaction, that the novelist had made a mistake, was WRONG, because she was writing American English.
    I once made an error that I now regret in reviewing an American book. I took the author to task for using the word ‘weasel’ when he meant ‘ferret’: I had no idea then that in AE, ‘weasel’ can be used generically of several mustelid species, including ferrets. In BE, it is species-specific, so that weasels and ferrets, though related, are mutually exclusive.
    I could go on like this endlessly, but I’ll give you all a break…

    Reply
  54. RfP: yes, I have read Truss’s book. I fully agree with you that many usages are not universal even within the same dialect. For example, the ‘–ise’ ending is our normal one in BE, but OUP prefers the AE-style ‘–ize’ (while also accepting –ise as correct). Thus, publishing houses whose house-styles closely follow Oxford, including my publishers, choose the z form. I just write normally and leave it to the poor old copy-editor to change ’em all. 😀
    The matter of ‘Truss’s’ or ‘Truss’ ‘ is also a house-style question if one is writing for publication. Both are acceptable, but some publishers will favour one over the other.
    Beginning sentences with conjunctions, ending them with prepositions and splitting infinitives are all undoubtedly matters of purely personal style and taste. Only the over-prescriptive grammar rules of relatively recent (19th-20th century) times have turned them into an issue. This kind of prescriptivism is still going on, with the exclusively American concern about the use of clauses with ‘that’ and ‘which’, the very first point that the reviewer of Truss’s book falsely jumped on as ‘incorrect’.
    We are all familiar with the obvious differences of spelling in AE and BE, but it is not always so widely realised that there are differences of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, too. And your point, that many of these problems are not down to hard and fast rules, but to custom and practice – and publishers’ house-styles – is also one that should be taken into account.
    I remember how startled I was when I first read, in an American novel, that somebody’s car ‘careened’ down the road. ‘Careening’, in BE, means only ‘to scrape down and clean the hull of a boat’ (from L. carina, a keel): it’s a fairly specialised word. The verb we use for ‘travelling in a rapid and erratic manner’ is ‘career’. I have discovered that the latter meaning for ‘careen’ is an accepted dictionary definition in AE, so my first reaction, that the novelist had made a mistake, was WRONG, because she was writing American English.
    I once made an error that I now regret in reviewing an American book. I took the author to task for using the word ‘weasel’ when he meant ‘ferret’: I had no idea then that in AE, ‘weasel’ can be used generically of several mustelid species, including ferrets. In BE, it is species-specific, so that weasels and ferrets, though related, are mutually exclusive.
    I could go on like this endlessly, but I’ll give you all a break…

    Reply
  55. RfP: yes, I have read Truss’s book. I fully agree with you that many usages are not universal even within the same dialect. For example, the ‘–ise’ ending is our normal one in BE, but OUP prefers the AE-style ‘–ize’ (while also accepting –ise as correct). Thus, publishing houses whose house-styles closely follow Oxford, including my publishers, choose the z form. I just write normally and leave it to the poor old copy-editor to change ’em all. 😀
    The matter of ‘Truss’s’ or ‘Truss’ ‘ is also a house-style question if one is writing for publication. Both are acceptable, but some publishers will favour one over the other.
    Beginning sentences with conjunctions, ending them with prepositions and splitting infinitives are all undoubtedly matters of purely personal style and taste. Only the over-prescriptive grammar rules of relatively recent (19th-20th century) times have turned them into an issue. This kind of prescriptivism is still going on, with the exclusively American concern about the use of clauses with ‘that’ and ‘which’, the very first point that the reviewer of Truss’s book falsely jumped on as ‘incorrect’.
    We are all familiar with the obvious differences of spelling in AE and BE, but it is not always so widely realised that there are differences of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, too. And your point, that many of these problems are not down to hard and fast rules, but to custom and practice – and publishers’ house-styles – is also one that should be taken into account.
    I remember how startled I was when I first read, in an American novel, that somebody’s car ‘careened’ down the road. ‘Careening’, in BE, means only ‘to scrape down and clean the hull of a boat’ (from L. carina, a keel): it’s a fairly specialised word. The verb we use for ‘travelling in a rapid and erratic manner’ is ‘career’. I have discovered that the latter meaning for ‘careen’ is an accepted dictionary definition in AE, so my first reaction, that the novelist had made a mistake, was WRONG, because she was writing American English.
    I once made an error that I now regret in reviewing an American book. I took the author to task for using the word ‘weasel’ when he meant ‘ferret’: I had no idea then that in AE, ‘weasel’ can be used generically of several mustelid species, including ferrets. In BE, it is species-specific, so that weasels and ferrets, though related, are mutually exclusive.
    I could go on like this endlessly, but I’ll give you all a break…

    Reply
  56. Hmm, my Merriam-Webster (best AE dictionary, in my opinion) differentiates between side-to-side and forward motion.
    careen:
    To heel over, as a ship under a breeze; hence, to lurch; to sway from side to side.
    career:
    To move or run rapidly.

    Reply
  57. Hmm, my Merriam-Webster (best AE dictionary, in my opinion) differentiates between side-to-side and forward motion.
    careen:
    To heel over, as a ship under a breeze; hence, to lurch; to sway from side to side.
    career:
    To move or run rapidly.

    Reply
  58. Hmm, my Merriam-Webster (best AE dictionary, in my opinion) differentiates between side-to-side and forward motion.
    careen:
    To heel over, as a ship under a breeze; hence, to lurch; to sway from side to side.
    career:
    To move or run rapidly.

    Reply
  59. Hmm, my Merriam-Webster (best AE dictionary, in my opinion) differentiates between side-to-side and forward motion.
    careen:
    To heel over, as a ship under a breeze; hence, to lurch; to sway from side to side.
    career:
    To move or run rapidly.

    Reply
  60. Hmm, my Merriam-Webster (best AE dictionary, in my opinion) differentiates between side-to-side and forward motion.
    careen:
    To heel over, as a ship under a breeze; hence, to lurch; to sway from side to side.
    career:
    To move or run rapidly.

    Reply
  61. From Fowler, THE KING’S ENGLISH: “1. ‘That’ should never be used to introduce a non-defining clause….’Who’ or ‘which’ should not be used in defining clauses except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that.'” I won’t argue that Fowler might at present be regarded as overly prescriptive. But this is BE, not AE. On the matter of “further” vs. “farther,” OTOH, he’s more lenient: “The fact is surely that hardly anyone uses the two words for different occasions; most people prefer one or the other for all purposes, & the preference of the majority is for _further_; the most that should be said is perhaps that _farther_ is not common except where distance is in question.” In this case, AE is more prescriptive, although not necessarily in all style guides. One thing Truss definitely got wrong was the New Yorker style of rendering plural numerals. When I saw “1980’s” I scratched my head. Menand confirmed it wasn’t New Yorker style–and I always thought it was wrong; but IIRC, it’s correct New York Times style but not, say Chicago Manual Style. Is that clear, everybody? *g*

    Reply
  62. From Fowler, THE KING’S ENGLISH: “1. ‘That’ should never be used to introduce a non-defining clause….’Who’ or ‘which’ should not be used in defining clauses except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that.'” I won’t argue that Fowler might at present be regarded as overly prescriptive. But this is BE, not AE. On the matter of “further” vs. “farther,” OTOH, he’s more lenient: “The fact is surely that hardly anyone uses the two words for different occasions; most people prefer one or the other for all purposes, & the preference of the majority is for _further_; the most that should be said is perhaps that _farther_ is not common except where distance is in question.” In this case, AE is more prescriptive, although not necessarily in all style guides. One thing Truss definitely got wrong was the New Yorker style of rendering plural numerals. When I saw “1980’s” I scratched my head. Menand confirmed it wasn’t New Yorker style–and I always thought it was wrong; but IIRC, it’s correct New York Times style but not, say Chicago Manual Style. Is that clear, everybody? *g*

    Reply
  63. From Fowler, THE KING’S ENGLISH: “1. ‘That’ should never be used to introduce a non-defining clause….’Who’ or ‘which’ should not be used in defining clauses except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that.'” I won’t argue that Fowler might at present be regarded as overly prescriptive. But this is BE, not AE. On the matter of “further” vs. “farther,” OTOH, he’s more lenient: “The fact is surely that hardly anyone uses the two words for different occasions; most people prefer one or the other for all purposes, & the preference of the majority is for _further_; the most that should be said is perhaps that _farther_ is not common except where distance is in question.” In this case, AE is more prescriptive, although not necessarily in all style guides. One thing Truss definitely got wrong was the New Yorker style of rendering plural numerals. When I saw “1980’s” I scratched my head. Menand confirmed it wasn’t New Yorker style–and I always thought it was wrong; but IIRC, it’s correct New York Times style but not, say Chicago Manual Style. Is that clear, everybody? *g*

    Reply
  64. From Fowler, THE KING’S ENGLISH: “1. ‘That’ should never be used to introduce a non-defining clause….’Who’ or ‘which’ should not be used in defining clauses except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that.'” I won’t argue that Fowler might at present be regarded as overly prescriptive. But this is BE, not AE. On the matter of “further” vs. “farther,” OTOH, he’s more lenient: “The fact is surely that hardly anyone uses the two words for different occasions; most people prefer one or the other for all purposes, & the preference of the majority is for _further_; the most that should be said is perhaps that _farther_ is not common except where distance is in question.” In this case, AE is more prescriptive, although not necessarily in all style guides. One thing Truss definitely got wrong was the New Yorker style of rendering plural numerals. When I saw “1980’s” I scratched my head. Menand confirmed it wasn’t New Yorker style–and I always thought it was wrong; but IIRC, it’s correct New York Times style but not, say Chicago Manual Style. Is that clear, everybody? *g*

    Reply
  65. From Fowler, THE KING’S ENGLISH: “1. ‘That’ should never be used to introduce a non-defining clause….’Who’ or ‘which’ should not be used in defining clauses except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that.'” I won’t argue that Fowler might at present be regarded as overly prescriptive. But this is BE, not AE. On the matter of “further” vs. “farther,” OTOH, he’s more lenient: “The fact is surely that hardly anyone uses the two words for different occasions; most people prefer one or the other for all purposes, & the preference of the majority is for _further_; the most that should be said is perhaps that _farther_ is not common except where distance is in question.” In this case, AE is more prescriptive, although not necessarily in all style guides. One thing Truss definitely got wrong was the New Yorker style of rendering plural numerals. When I saw “1980’s” I scratched my head. Menand confirmed it wasn’t New Yorker style–and I always thought it was wrong; but IIRC, it’s correct New York Times style but not, say Chicago Manual Style. Is that clear, everybody? *g*

    Reply
  66. All of this just emphasizes why I am a reader and not a writer. I got steered into “enriched” English in high school, which meant that we got to study plays and drama along with our regular literature class, and we skipped grammar completely. I never had a grammar lesson after eighth grade, at which point we were diagramming sentences. (Do they still do that?) I don’t know what a subordinate clause is, let alone what words can properly introduce one. I read “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and loved it but didn’t notice any errors. Now I feel really dumb! I admire all you grammar gurus so much- I still have to recite “i before e” half the time….

    Reply
  67. All of this just emphasizes why I am a reader and not a writer. I got steered into “enriched” English in high school, which meant that we got to study plays and drama along with our regular literature class, and we skipped grammar completely. I never had a grammar lesson after eighth grade, at which point we were diagramming sentences. (Do they still do that?) I don’t know what a subordinate clause is, let alone what words can properly introduce one. I read “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and loved it but didn’t notice any errors. Now I feel really dumb! I admire all you grammar gurus so much- I still have to recite “i before e” half the time….

    Reply
  68. All of this just emphasizes why I am a reader and not a writer. I got steered into “enriched” English in high school, which meant that we got to study plays and drama along with our regular literature class, and we skipped grammar completely. I never had a grammar lesson after eighth grade, at which point we were diagramming sentences. (Do they still do that?) I don’t know what a subordinate clause is, let alone what words can properly introduce one. I read “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and loved it but didn’t notice any errors. Now I feel really dumb! I admire all you grammar gurus so much- I still have to recite “i before e” half the time….

    Reply
  69. All of this just emphasizes why I am a reader and not a writer. I got steered into “enriched” English in high school, which meant that we got to study plays and drama along with our regular literature class, and we skipped grammar completely. I never had a grammar lesson after eighth grade, at which point we were diagramming sentences. (Do they still do that?) I don’t know what a subordinate clause is, let alone what words can properly introduce one. I read “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and loved it but didn’t notice any errors. Now I feel really dumb! I admire all you grammar gurus so much- I still have to recite “i before e” half the time….

    Reply
  70. All of this just emphasizes why I am a reader and not a writer. I got steered into “enriched” English in high school, which meant that we got to study plays and drama along with our regular literature class, and we skipped grammar completely. I never had a grammar lesson after eighth grade, at which point we were diagramming sentences. (Do they still do that?) I don’t know what a subordinate clause is, let alone what words can properly introduce one. I read “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and loved it but didn’t notice any errors. Now I feel really dumb! I admire all you grammar gurus so much- I still have to recite “i before e” half the time….

    Reply
  71. When actually *careening* a boat, RfP (transitive verb), the vessel is not merely heeling over: it is drawn up on dry land and lying on its side! 🙂
    Fowler: note that he includes the caveat ‘except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that’ ‘. It very often is! I was taught at a period when Fowler generally held sway (1940s-1950s) in British schools, but I was still astonished when I saw the very, umm, restrictive rules on this subject now current in AE.
    Hart’s Rules (OUP style handbook) has a couple of pages on restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, with examples. Too much to quote, I fear. In practice, *that* is used far more frequently in AE, often in contexts where it grates on the BE ear.
    Well, this is why we all need good copy-editors, bless their hearts. Though recently I have noticed younger copy-editors becoming rather attached to dashes. I use dashes in informal writing, but very rarely do so in a formal register, and I have actually had brackets or commas replaced by dashes recently! What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.
    Which reminds me of the other language factor: generation. Those who are alert to language usage will notice, from the age of about 40 or 50, that people 30 years younger than themselves, even if their background and education are very similar to their own, no longer speak quite the same English.
    This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. I shall try to shut up again.

    Reply
  72. When actually *careening* a boat, RfP (transitive verb), the vessel is not merely heeling over: it is drawn up on dry land and lying on its side! 🙂
    Fowler: note that he includes the caveat ‘except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that’ ‘. It very often is! I was taught at a period when Fowler generally held sway (1940s-1950s) in British schools, but I was still astonished when I saw the very, umm, restrictive rules on this subject now current in AE.
    Hart’s Rules (OUP style handbook) has a couple of pages on restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, with examples. Too much to quote, I fear. In practice, *that* is used far more frequently in AE, often in contexts where it grates on the BE ear.
    Well, this is why we all need good copy-editors, bless their hearts. Though recently I have noticed younger copy-editors becoming rather attached to dashes. I use dashes in informal writing, but very rarely do so in a formal register, and I have actually had brackets or commas replaced by dashes recently! What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.
    Which reminds me of the other language factor: generation. Those who are alert to language usage will notice, from the age of about 40 or 50, that people 30 years younger than themselves, even if their background and education are very similar to their own, no longer speak quite the same English.
    This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. I shall try to shut up again.

    Reply
  73. When actually *careening* a boat, RfP (transitive verb), the vessel is not merely heeling over: it is drawn up on dry land and lying on its side! 🙂
    Fowler: note that he includes the caveat ‘except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that’ ‘. It very often is! I was taught at a period when Fowler generally held sway (1940s-1950s) in British schools, but I was still astonished when I saw the very, umm, restrictive rules on this subject now current in AE.
    Hart’s Rules (OUP style handbook) has a couple of pages on restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, with examples. Too much to quote, I fear. In practice, *that* is used far more frequently in AE, often in contexts where it grates on the BE ear.
    Well, this is why we all need good copy-editors, bless their hearts. Though recently I have noticed younger copy-editors becoming rather attached to dashes. I use dashes in informal writing, but very rarely do so in a formal register, and I have actually had brackets or commas replaced by dashes recently! What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.
    Which reminds me of the other language factor: generation. Those who are alert to language usage will notice, from the age of about 40 or 50, that people 30 years younger than themselves, even if their background and education are very similar to their own, no longer speak quite the same English.
    This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. I shall try to shut up again.

    Reply
  74. When actually *careening* a boat, RfP (transitive verb), the vessel is not merely heeling over: it is drawn up on dry land and lying on its side! 🙂
    Fowler: note that he includes the caveat ‘except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that’ ‘. It very often is! I was taught at a period when Fowler generally held sway (1940s-1950s) in British schools, but I was still astonished when I saw the very, umm, restrictive rules on this subject now current in AE.
    Hart’s Rules (OUP style handbook) has a couple of pages on restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, with examples. Too much to quote, I fear. In practice, *that* is used far more frequently in AE, often in contexts where it grates on the BE ear.
    Well, this is why we all need good copy-editors, bless their hearts. Though recently I have noticed younger copy-editors becoming rather attached to dashes. I use dashes in informal writing, but very rarely do so in a formal register, and I have actually had brackets or commas replaced by dashes recently! What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.
    Which reminds me of the other language factor: generation. Those who are alert to language usage will notice, from the age of about 40 or 50, that people 30 years younger than themselves, even if their background and education are very similar to their own, no longer speak quite the same English.
    This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. I shall try to shut up again.

    Reply
  75. When actually *careening* a boat, RfP (transitive verb), the vessel is not merely heeling over: it is drawn up on dry land and lying on its side! 🙂
    Fowler: note that he includes the caveat ‘except when custom, euphony, or convenience is decidedly against the use of ‘that’ ‘. It very often is! I was taught at a period when Fowler generally held sway (1940s-1950s) in British schools, but I was still astonished when I saw the very, umm, restrictive rules on this subject now current in AE.
    Hart’s Rules (OUP style handbook) has a couple of pages on restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, with examples. Too much to quote, I fear. In practice, *that* is used far more frequently in AE, often in contexts where it grates on the BE ear.
    Well, this is why we all need good copy-editors, bless their hearts. Though recently I have noticed younger copy-editors becoming rather attached to dashes. I use dashes in informal writing, but very rarely do so in a formal register, and I have actually had brackets or commas replaced by dashes recently! What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.
    Which reminds me of the other language factor: generation. Those who are alert to language usage will notice, from the age of about 40 or 50, that people 30 years younger than themselves, even if their background and education are very similar to their own, no longer speak quite the same English.
    This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. I shall try to shut up again.

    Reply
  76. I had a mini-display in the high school library today with a Punctuation Day sign and Eats, Shoots and Leaves next to it. Love that book.
    When people mean to pluralize something and add apostrophes, I go crazy. Some people seem incapable of adding an ‘s’ to any word without an apostrophe.
    I had grammar and usage and lie/lay drilled into me in elementary school (including diagramming sentences—but now I think the rule of doubling the consonant before ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ is by the wayside—diagraming does not look right). Oh, whatever. Soon we’ll all be spelling the way the kids text.

    Reply
  77. I had a mini-display in the high school library today with a Punctuation Day sign and Eats, Shoots and Leaves next to it. Love that book.
    When people mean to pluralize something and add apostrophes, I go crazy. Some people seem incapable of adding an ‘s’ to any word without an apostrophe.
    I had grammar and usage and lie/lay drilled into me in elementary school (including diagramming sentences—but now I think the rule of doubling the consonant before ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ is by the wayside—diagraming does not look right). Oh, whatever. Soon we’ll all be spelling the way the kids text.

    Reply
  78. I had a mini-display in the high school library today with a Punctuation Day sign and Eats, Shoots and Leaves next to it. Love that book.
    When people mean to pluralize something and add apostrophes, I go crazy. Some people seem incapable of adding an ‘s’ to any word without an apostrophe.
    I had grammar and usage and lie/lay drilled into me in elementary school (including diagramming sentences—but now I think the rule of doubling the consonant before ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ is by the wayside—diagraming does not look right). Oh, whatever. Soon we’ll all be spelling the way the kids text.

    Reply
  79. I had a mini-display in the high school library today with a Punctuation Day sign and Eats, Shoots and Leaves next to it. Love that book.
    When people mean to pluralize something and add apostrophes, I go crazy. Some people seem incapable of adding an ‘s’ to any word without an apostrophe.
    I had grammar and usage and lie/lay drilled into me in elementary school (including diagramming sentences—but now I think the rule of doubling the consonant before ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ is by the wayside—diagraming does not look right). Oh, whatever. Soon we’ll all be spelling the way the kids text.

    Reply
  80. I had a mini-display in the high school library today with a Punctuation Day sign and Eats, Shoots and Leaves next to it. Love that book.
    When people mean to pluralize something and add apostrophes, I go crazy. Some people seem incapable of adding an ‘s’ to any word without an apostrophe.
    I had grammar and usage and lie/lay drilled into me in elementary school (including diagramming sentences—but now I think the rule of doubling the consonant before ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ is by the wayside—diagraming does not look right). Oh, whatever. Soon we’ll all be spelling the way the kids text.

    Reply
  81. “What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.” Why? Why? No one taught us proofreaders’ or copy editors’ symbols in school. Reviewing page proofs is laborious enough. Just as I think I’m getting the hang of it, they go and change it on me.
    Diagramming sentences: We did it, repeatedly, but I’d have no idea how to do it now.

    Reply
  82. “What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.” Why? Why? No one taught us proofreaders’ or copy editors’ symbols in school. Reviewing page proofs is laborious enough. Just as I think I’m getting the hang of it, they go and change it on me.
    Diagramming sentences: We did it, repeatedly, but I’d have no idea how to do it now.

    Reply
  83. “What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.” Why? Why? No one taught us proofreaders’ or copy editors’ symbols in school. Reviewing page proofs is laborious enough. Just as I think I’m getting the hang of it, they go and change it on me.
    Diagramming sentences: We did it, repeatedly, but I’d have no idea how to do it now.

    Reply
  84. “What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.” Why? Why? No one taught us proofreaders’ or copy editors’ symbols in school. Reviewing page proofs is laborious enough. Just as I think I’m getting the hang of it, they go and change it on me.
    Diagramming sentences: We did it, repeatedly, but I’d have no idea how to do it now.

    Reply
  85. “What is the world coming to! They use funny new proof-reading symbols too.” Why? Why? No one taught us proofreaders’ or copy editors’ symbols in school. Reviewing page proofs is laborious enough. Just as I think I’m getting the hang of it, they go and change it on me.
    Diagramming sentences: We did it, repeatedly, but I’d have no idea how to do it now.

    Reply
  86. Back in the early 1960s (I was taught no apostrophe), I taught an eighth grade English class (all girls, much easier at that age). They were a bright group and they loved diagraming sentences, the more complicated the better. Their favorites spread around three sides of the room. I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished, but it was fun.
    And the doubling consonant rule that I learned was: “A final single consonant preceded by a single vowel is doubled in monosyllables and words accented on the last syllable.” (I’ve impressed no end of people by being able to recite that.)

    Reply
  87. Back in the early 1960s (I was taught no apostrophe), I taught an eighth grade English class (all girls, much easier at that age). They were a bright group and they loved diagraming sentences, the more complicated the better. Their favorites spread around three sides of the room. I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished, but it was fun.
    And the doubling consonant rule that I learned was: “A final single consonant preceded by a single vowel is doubled in monosyllables and words accented on the last syllable.” (I’ve impressed no end of people by being able to recite that.)

    Reply
  88. Back in the early 1960s (I was taught no apostrophe), I taught an eighth grade English class (all girls, much easier at that age). They were a bright group and they loved diagraming sentences, the more complicated the better. Their favorites spread around three sides of the room. I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished, but it was fun.
    And the doubling consonant rule that I learned was: “A final single consonant preceded by a single vowel is doubled in monosyllables and words accented on the last syllable.” (I’ve impressed no end of people by being able to recite that.)

    Reply
  89. Back in the early 1960s (I was taught no apostrophe), I taught an eighth grade English class (all girls, much easier at that age). They were a bright group and they loved diagraming sentences, the more complicated the better. Their favorites spread around three sides of the room. I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished, but it was fun.
    And the doubling consonant rule that I learned was: “A final single consonant preceded by a single vowel is doubled in monosyllables and words accented on the last syllable.” (I’ve impressed no end of people by being able to recite that.)

    Reply
  90. Back in the early 1960s (I was taught no apostrophe), I taught an eighth grade English class (all girls, much easier at that age). They were a bright group and they loved diagraming sentences, the more complicated the better. Their favorites spread around three sides of the room. I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished, but it was fun.
    And the doubling consonant rule that I learned was: “A final single consonant preceded by a single vowel is doubled in monosyllables and words accented on the last syllable.” (I’ve impressed no end of people by being able to recite that.)

    Reply
  91. Why isn’t that useful device, the interrobang, standard usage‽
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang
    Reporters always used to try to show up Calvin Coolidge as a dumb hick. Once a reporter asked if people where he came from said “a hen SITS” or “a hen SETS”?
    Coolidge replied that people where he came from were more interested in knowing if, when she cackled, she was laying or lying.
    (This is actually a useful mnemonic.)
    As for where the bad punctuation comes from:
    “As’ chairman of the, Merchant’s’s Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing’s represent a valuable labor force in this’ city—” said Mr. Robert Parker.*
    *As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place. (Terry Pratchett)

    Reply
  92. Why isn’t that useful device, the interrobang, standard usage‽
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang
    Reporters always used to try to show up Calvin Coolidge as a dumb hick. Once a reporter asked if people where he came from said “a hen SITS” or “a hen SETS”?
    Coolidge replied that people where he came from were more interested in knowing if, when she cackled, she was laying or lying.
    (This is actually a useful mnemonic.)
    As for where the bad punctuation comes from:
    “As’ chairman of the, Merchant’s’s Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing’s represent a valuable labor force in this’ city—” said Mr. Robert Parker.*
    *As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place. (Terry Pratchett)

    Reply
  93. Why isn’t that useful device, the interrobang, standard usage‽
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang
    Reporters always used to try to show up Calvin Coolidge as a dumb hick. Once a reporter asked if people where he came from said “a hen SITS” or “a hen SETS”?
    Coolidge replied that people where he came from were more interested in knowing if, when she cackled, she was laying or lying.
    (This is actually a useful mnemonic.)
    As for where the bad punctuation comes from:
    “As’ chairman of the, Merchant’s’s Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing’s represent a valuable labor force in this’ city—” said Mr. Robert Parker.*
    *As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place. (Terry Pratchett)

    Reply
  94. Why isn’t that useful device, the interrobang, standard usage‽
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang
    Reporters always used to try to show up Calvin Coolidge as a dumb hick. Once a reporter asked if people where he came from said “a hen SITS” or “a hen SETS”?
    Coolidge replied that people where he came from were more interested in knowing if, when she cackled, she was laying or lying.
    (This is actually a useful mnemonic.)
    As for where the bad punctuation comes from:
    “As’ chairman of the, Merchant’s’s Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing’s represent a valuable labor force in this’ city—” said Mr. Robert Parker.*
    *As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place. (Terry Pratchett)

    Reply
  95. Why isn’t that useful device, the interrobang, standard usage‽
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang
    Reporters always used to try to show up Calvin Coolidge as a dumb hick. Once a reporter asked if people where he came from said “a hen SITS” or “a hen SETS”?
    Coolidge replied that people where he came from were more interested in knowing if, when she cackled, she was laying or lying.
    (This is actually a useful mnemonic.)
    As for where the bad punctuation comes from:
    “As’ chairman of the, Merchant’s’s Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing’s represent a valuable labor force in this’ city—” said Mr. Robert Parker.*
    *As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place. (Terry Pratchett)

    Reply
  96. Jane O: remember that the ‘doubling consonant’ rule is another one that is DIFFERENT in AE and BE!
    For example, AE uses ‘traveling’; we spell it ‘travelling’. There are quite a few words where *both* forms are acceptable in BE (e.g. riveting/rivetting; faceting/facetting), but ‘traveling’ would be an error in BE.
    I would write ‘diagramming’, though we do not use that term for parsing a sentence anyway.
    I never understood the syntax structure thing when it was taught in primary school: it only started to make sense after we started to learn Latin, but which time I was probably past praying for.

    Reply
  97. Jane O: remember that the ‘doubling consonant’ rule is another one that is DIFFERENT in AE and BE!
    For example, AE uses ‘traveling’; we spell it ‘travelling’. There are quite a few words where *both* forms are acceptable in BE (e.g. riveting/rivetting; faceting/facetting), but ‘traveling’ would be an error in BE.
    I would write ‘diagramming’, though we do not use that term for parsing a sentence anyway.
    I never understood the syntax structure thing when it was taught in primary school: it only started to make sense after we started to learn Latin, but which time I was probably past praying for.

    Reply
  98. Jane O: remember that the ‘doubling consonant’ rule is another one that is DIFFERENT in AE and BE!
    For example, AE uses ‘traveling’; we spell it ‘travelling’. There are quite a few words where *both* forms are acceptable in BE (e.g. riveting/rivetting; faceting/facetting), but ‘traveling’ would be an error in BE.
    I would write ‘diagramming’, though we do not use that term for parsing a sentence anyway.
    I never understood the syntax structure thing when it was taught in primary school: it only started to make sense after we started to learn Latin, but which time I was probably past praying for.

    Reply
  99. Jane O: remember that the ‘doubling consonant’ rule is another one that is DIFFERENT in AE and BE!
    For example, AE uses ‘traveling’; we spell it ‘travelling’. There are quite a few words where *both* forms are acceptable in BE (e.g. riveting/rivetting; faceting/facetting), but ‘traveling’ would be an error in BE.
    I would write ‘diagramming’, though we do not use that term for parsing a sentence anyway.
    I never understood the syntax structure thing when it was taught in primary school: it only started to make sense after we started to learn Latin, but which time I was probably past praying for.

    Reply
  100. Jane O: remember that the ‘doubling consonant’ rule is another one that is DIFFERENT in AE and BE!
    For example, AE uses ‘traveling’; we spell it ‘travelling’. There are quite a few words where *both* forms are acceptable in BE (e.g. riveting/rivetting; faceting/facetting), but ‘traveling’ would be an error in BE.
    I would write ‘diagramming’, though we do not use that term for parsing a sentence anyway.
    I never understood the syntax structure thing when it was taught in primary school: it only started to make sense after we started to learn Latin, but which time I was probably past praying for.

    Reply
  101. We do need grammar, spelling and punctuation. If done wrong, as in talpiana’s example, it’s distracting at best, and at worst, confuses the meaning. Not to mention that I wonder about the author. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation implies the author doesn’t care about his readers, that we’re so unimportant he can address us any way he wants.

    Reply
  102. We do need grammar, spelling and punctuation. If done wrong, as in talpiana’s example, it’s distracting at best, and at worst, confuses the meaning. Not to mention that I wonder about the author. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation implies the author doesn’t care about his readers, that we’re so unimportant he can address us any way he wants.

    Reply
  103. We do need grammar, spelling and punctuation. If done wrong, as in talpiana’s example, it’s distracting at best, and at worst, confuses the meaning. Not to mention that I wonder about the author. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation implies the author doesn’t care about his readers, that we’re so unimportant he can address us any way he wants.

    Reply
  104. We do need grammar, spelling and punctuation. If done wrong, as in talpiana’s example, it’s distracting at best, and at worst, confuses the meaning. Not to mention that I wonder about the author. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation implies the author doesn’t care about his readers, that we’re so unimportant he can address us any way he wants.

    Reply
  105. We do need grammar, spelling and punctuation. If done wrong, as in talpiana’s example, it’s distracting at best, and at worst, confuses the meaning. Not to mention that I wonder about the author. Bad grammar, spelling and punctuation implies the author doesn’t care about his readers, that we’re so unimportant he can address us any way he wants.

    Reply
  106. Linda: Talpianna’s quotation is from Terry Pratchett, and is, of course, intentionally humorous. Apostrophes inserted into ordinary plurals (e.g. ‘Tomato’s, — a kilo’) are known in BE as ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’.
    We should remember, too, that in published work, it is not always possible to lay blame (or praise) squarely where it belongs. A good editor can, and will, correct errors and infelicities in the text she is editing: bad editors have been known to insert errors into a formerly correct text by ‘miscorrecting’ things they did not understand.
    And it is a law of nature that, however many readers and editors work on a book, there will be at least one mistake that they ALL missed, generally noticed by the author the first time she opens the final, bound volume. The pause between, ‘Oh, wow, here it is at last! Doesn’t it look lovely!’ and ‘Aaargh! Oh no! Look at THIS!’ can be as short as a minute…
    🙂

    Reply
  107. Linda: Talpianna’s quotation is from Terry Pratchett, and is, of course, intentionally humorous. Apostrophes inserted into ordinary plurals (e.g. ‘Tomato’s, — a kilo’) are known in BE as ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’.
    We should remember, too, that in published work, it is not always possible to lay blame (or praise) squarely where it belongs. A good editor can, and will, correct errors and infelicities in the text she is editing: bad editors have been known to insert errors into a formerly correct text by ‘miscorrecting’ things they did not understand.
    And it is a law of nature that, however many readers and editors work on a book, there will be at least one mistake that they ALL missed, generally noticed by the author the first time she opens the final, bound volume. The pause between, ‘Oh, wow, here it is at last! Doesn’t it look lovely!’ and ‘Aaargh! Oh no! Look at THIS!’ can be as short as a minute…
    🙂

    Reply
  108. Linda: Talpianna’s quotation is from Terry Pratchett, and is, of course, intentionally humorous. Apostrophes inserted into ordinary plurals (e.g. ‘Tomato’s, — a kilo’) are known in BE as ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’.
    We should remember, too, that in published work, it is not always possible to lay blame (or praise) squarely where it belongs. A good editor can, and will, correct errors and infelicities in the text she is editing: bad editors have been known to insert errors into a formerly correct text by ‘miscorrecting’ things they did not understand.
    And it is a law of nature that, however many readers and editors work on a book, there will be at least one mistake that they ALL missed, generally noticed by the author the first time she opens the final, bound volume. The pause between, ‘Oh, wow, here it is at last! Doesn’t it look lovely!’ and ‘Aaargh! Oh no! Look at THIS!’ can be as short as a minute…
    🙂

    Reply
  109. Linda: Talpianna’s quotation is from Terry Pratchett, and is, of course, intentionally humorous. Apostrophes inserted into ordinary plurals (e.g. ‘Tomato’s, — a kilo’) are known in BE as ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’.
    We should remember, too, that in published work, it is not always possible to lay blame (or praise) squarely where it belongs. A good editor can, and will, correct errors and infelicities in the text she is editing: bad editors have been known to insert errors into a formerly correct text by ‘miscorrecting’ things they did not understand.
    And it is a law of nature that, however many readers and editors work on a book, there will be at least one mistake that they ALL missed, generally noticed by the author the first time she opens the final, bound volume. The pause between, ‘Oh, wow, here it is at last! Doesn’t it look lovely!’ and ‘Aaargh! Oh no! Look at THIS!’ can be as short as a minute…
    🙂

    Reply
  110. Linda: Talpianna’s quotation is from Terry Pratchett, and is, of course, intentionally humorous. Apostrophes inserted into ordinary plurals (e.g. ‘Tomato’s, — a kilo’) are known in BE as ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’.
    We should remember, too, that in published work, it is not always possible to lay blame (or praise) squarely where it belongs. A good editor can, and will, correct errors and infelicities in the text she is editing: bad editors have been known to insert errors into a formerly correct text by ‘miscorrecting’ things they did not understand.
    And it is a law of nature that, however many readers and editors work on a book, there will be at least one mistake that they ALL missed, generally noticed by the author the first time she opens the final, bound volume. The pause between, ‘Oh, wow, here it is at last! Doesn’t it look lovely!’ and ‘Aaargh! Oh no! Look at THIS!’ can be as short as a minute…
    🙂

    Reply
  111. Achy because once again, I didn’t sleep well, and tired because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again I didn’t sleep well, and tired, because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again, I didn’t sleep well and tired, because I was up at six.
    Honestly. Which one? Or none of the above?

    Reply
  112. Achy because once again, I didn’t sleep well, and tired because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again I didn’t sleep well, and tired, because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again, I didn’t sleep well and tired, because I was up at six.
    Honestly. Which one? Or none of the above?

    Reply
  113. Achy because once again, I didn’t sleep well, and tired because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again I didn’t sleep well, and tired, because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again, I didn’t sleep well and tired, because I was up at six.
    Honestly. Which one? Or none of the above?

    Reply
  114. Achy because once again, I didn’t sleep well, and tired because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again I didn’t sleep well, and tired, because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again, I didn’t sleep well and tired, because I was up at six.
    Honestly. Which one? Or none of the above?

    Reply
  115. Achy because once again, I didn’t sleep well, and tired because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again I didn’t sleep well, and tired, because I was up at six.
    or
    Achy, because once again, I didn’t sleep well and tired, because I was up at six.
    Honestly. Which one? Or none of the above?

    Reply
  116. Hmm. If you think copy editors are hard-assed, try copy editors for academic journals. If I’m writing a paper about 19th century art, there are literally a dozen, dizzying rules for whether or not to capitalize 19th (if I was spelling it out), or century, or the descriptive word following the phrase 19th century; rules as to whether or not one should put a dash between 19th and century; and rules for when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely NOT okay to use “19th.” Things get even more complex if the paper discusses a regional art movement, e.g. the American West. This seems pretty simple at first–when it describes a specific region, capitalize it–but when you write something like, “William Henry Jackson was a strong influence on Western art,” are you using “west” in this sentence to refer to a region or a style? Is “the west” that you refer to here really specific enough to be capitalized, or is this more of the “broad” west, and thus not supposed to be capitalized? As you can probably tell, this depends a lot more on the copy editor’s interpretation of your words than hard-and-fast rules of grammar.
    And don’t even get me started on artistic styles/movements. Some art movements/styles get capitalized. Some do not. Which ones do? No one really knows. You can looking in two different style guides and get two different answers. You can ask two different people at the same publication and get different answers. I once had my editor tell me to capitalize Impressionism, then 3 weeks later the copy editor told me not to. It’s completely random.

    Reply
  117. Hmm. If you think copy editors are hard-assed, try copy editors for academic journals. If I’m writing a paper about 19th century art, there are literally a dozen, dizzying rules for whether or not to capitalize 19th (if I was spelling it out), or century, or the descriptive word following the phrase 19th century; rules as to whether or not one should put a dash between 19th and century; and rules for when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely NOT okay to use “19th.” Things get even more complex if the paper discusses a regional art movement, e.g. the American West. This seems pretty simple at first–when it describes a specific region, capitalize it–but when you write something like, “William Henry Jackson was a strong influence on Western art,” are you using “west” in this sentence to refer to a region or a style? Is “the west” that you refer to here really specific enough to be capitalized, or is this more of the “broad” west, and thus not supposed to be capitalized? As you can probably tell, this depends a lot more on the copy editor’s interpretation of your words than hard-and-fast rules of grammar.
    And don’t even get me started on artistic styles/movements. Some art movements/styles get capitalized. Some do not. Which ones do? No one really knows. You can looking in two different style guides and get two different answers. You can ask two different people at the same publication and get different answers. I once had my editor tell me to capitalize Impressionism, then 3 weeks later the copy editor told me not to. It’s completely random.

    Reply
  118. Hmm. If you think copy editors are hard-assed, try copy editors for academic journals. If I’m writing a paper about 19th century art, there are literally a dozen, dizzying rules for whether or not to capitalize 19th (if I was spelling it out), or century, or the descriptive word following the phrase 19th century; rules as to whether or not one should put a dash between 19th and century; and rules for when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely NOT okay to use “19th.” Things get even more complex if the paper discusses a regional art movement, e.g. the American West. This seems pretty simple at first–when it describes a specific region, capitalize it–but when you write something like, “William Henry Jackson was a strong influence on Western art,” are you using “west” in this sentence to refer to a region or a style? Is “the west” that you refer to here really specific enough to be capitalized, or is this more of the “broad” west, and thus not supposed to be capitalized? As you can probably tell, this depends a lot more on the copy editor’s interpretation of your words than hard-and-fast rules of grammar.
    And don’t even get me started on artistic styles/movements. Some art movements/styles get capitalized. Some do not. Which ones do? No one really knows. You can looking in two different style guides and get two different answers. You can ask two different people at the same publication and get different answers. I once had my editor tell me to capitalize Impressionism, then 3 weeks later the copy editor told me not to. It’s completely random.

    Reply
  119. Hmm. If you think copy editors are hard-assed, try copy editors for academic journals. If I’m writing a paper about 19th century art, there are literally a dozen, dizzying rules for whether or not to capitalize 19th (if I was spelling it out), or century, or the descriptive word following the phrase 19th century; rules as to whether or not one should put a dash between 19th and century; and rules for when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely NOT okay to use “19th.” Things get even more complex if the paper discusses a regional art movement, e.g. the American West. This seems pretty simple at first–when it describes a specific region, capitalize it–but when you write something like, “William Henry Jackson was a strong influence on Western art,” are you using “west” in this sentence to refer to a region or a style? Is “the west” that you refer to here really specific enough to be capitalized, or is this more of the “broad” west, and thus not supposed to be capitalized? As you can probably tell, this depends a lot more on the copy editor’s interpretation of your words than hard-and-fast rules of grammar.
    And don’t even get me started on artistic styles/movements. Some art movements/styles get capitalized. Some do not. Which ones do? No one really knows. You can looking in two different style guides and get two different answers. You can ask two different people at the same publication and get different answers. I once had my editor tell me to capitalize Impressionism, then 3 weeks later the copy editor told me not to. It’s completely random.

    Reply
  120. Hmm. If you think copy editors are hard-assed, try copy editors for academic journals. If I’m writing a paper about 19th century art, there are literally a dozen, dizzying rules for whether or not to capitalize 19th (if I was spelling it out), or century, or the descriptive word following the phrase 19th century; rules as to whether or not one should put a dash between 19th and century; and rules for when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely NOT okay to use “19th.” Things get even more complex if the paper discusses a regional art movement, e.g. the American West. This seems pretty simple at first–when it describes a specific region, capitalize it–but when you write something like, “William Henry Jackson was a strong influence on Western art,” are you using “west” in this sentence to refer to a region or a style? Is “the west” that you refer to here really specific enough to be capitalized, or is this more of the “broad” west, and thus not supposed to be capitalized? As you can probably tell, this depends a lot more on the copy editor’s interpretation of your words than hard-and-fast rules of grammar.
    And don’t even get me started on artistic styles/movements. Some art movements/styles get capitalized. Some do not. Which ones do? No one really knows. You can looking in two different style guides and get two different answers. You can ask two different people at the same publication and get different answers. I once had my editor tell me to capitalize Impressionism, then 3 weeks later the copy editor told me not to. It’s completely random.

    Reply
  121. Heidenkind, nearly all academic journals in my field issue their own house-style rules for submissions, so although they all do things slightly differently, one does at least have something to refer to. If one is accustomed to writing for a relatively limited number of scholarly journals, it can come as a bit of a shock when tackling a new one to find completely different rules for abbreviations, references, bibliography and so forth.
    In practice, even with the existence of rules for submissions, academic editors are pretty well accustomed to having to ‘correct’ a lot of things in the papers they receive.

    Reply
  122. Heidenkind, nearly all academic journals in my field issue their own house-style rules for submissions, so although they all do things slightly differently, one does at least have something to refer to. If one is accustomed to writing for a relatively limited number of scholarly journals, it can come as a bit of a shock when tackling a new one to find completely different rules for abbreviations, references, bibliography and so forth.
    In practice, even with the existence of rules for submissions, academic editors are pretty well accustomed to having to ‘correct’ a lot of things in the papers they receive.

    Reply
  123. Heidenkind, nearly all academic journals in my field issue their own house-style rules for submissions, so although they all do things slightly differently, one does at least have something to refer to. If one is accustomed to writing for a relatively limited number of scholarly journals, it can come as a bit of a shock when tackling a new one to find completely different rules for abbreviations, references, bibliography and so forth.
    In practice, even with the existence of rules for submissions, academic editors are pretty well accustomed to having to ‘correct’ a lot of things in the papers they receive.

    Reply
  124. Heidenkind, nearly all academic journals in my field issue their own house-style rules for submissions, so although they all do things slightly differently, one does at least have something to refer to. If one is accustomed to writing for a relatively limited number of scholarly journals, it can come as a bit of a shock when tackling a new one to find completely different rules for abbreviations, references, bibliography and so forth.
    In practice, even with the existence of rules for submissions, academic editors are pretty well accustomed to having to ‘correct’ a lot of things in the papers they receive.

    Reply
  125. Heidenkind, nearly all academic journals in my field issue their own house-style rules for submissions, so although they all do things slightly differently, one does at least have something to refer to. If one is accustomed to writing for a relatively limited number of scholarly journals, it can come as a bit of a shock when tackling a new one to find completely different rules for abbreviations, references, bibliography and so forth.
    In practice, even with the existence of rules for submissions, academic editors are pretty well accustomed to having to ‘correct’ a lot of things in the papers they receive.

    Reply
  126. ***I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.***
    The secret for remembering this one is “far, far away” = distance = farther. Though I think it’s harder for those of us that glom BE books (kind of like the fact that I simply can’t type colour without the ‘u’).
    My own name drives me batty. I find support for both Hughes’ and Hughes’s . Ugh. I’ve even found really arbitrary versions that state it’s Hughes’s, UNLESS the next word beings with an ‘s’: Hughes’s book, but Hughes’ story. Double ugh.

    Reply
  127. ***I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.***
    The secret for remembering this one is “far, far away” = distance = farther. Though I think it’s harder for those of us that glom BE books (kind of like the fact that I simply can’t type colour without the ‘u’).
    My own name drives me batty. I find support for both Hughes’ and Hughes’s . Ugh. I’ve even found really arbitrary versions that state it’s Hughes’s, UNLESS the next word beings with an ‘s’: Hughes’s book, but Hughes’ story. Double ugh.

    Reply
  128. ***I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.***
    The secret for remembering this one is “far, far away” = distance = farther. Though I think it’s harder for those of us that glom BE books (kind of like the fact that I simply can’t type colour without the ‘u’).
    My own name drives me batty. I find support for both Hughes’ and Hughes’s . Ugh. I’ve even found really arbitrary versions that state it’s Hughes’s, UNLESS the next word beings with an ‘s’: Hughes’s book, but Hughes’ story. Double ugh.

    Reply
  129. ***I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.***
    The secret for remembering this one is “far, far away” = distance = farther. Though I think it’s harder for those of us that glom BE books (kind of like the fact that I simply can’t type colour without the ‘u’).
    My own name drives me batty. I find support for both Hughes’ and Hughes’s . Ugh. I’ve even found really arbitrary versions that state it’s Hughes’s, UNLESS the next word beings with an ‘s’: Hughes’s book, but Hughes’ story. Double ugh.

    Reply
  130. ***I still have trouble with “farther” and “further”, too.***
    The secret for remembering this one is “far, far away” = distance = farther. Though I think it’s harder for those of us that glom BE books (kind of like the fact that I simply can’t type colour without the ‘u’).
    My own name drives me batty. I find support for both Hughes’ and Hughes’s . Ugh. I’ve even found really arbitrary versions that state it’s Hughes’s, UNLESS the next word beings with an ‘s’: Hughes’s book, but Hughes’ story. Double ugh.

    Reply
  131. Kalen, I always use the extra s, because this is the form I *invariably* use in speech: ‘AgTigress’s comment’, not ‘AgTigress’ comment’.
    Although some editors/publishers prefer the other style, and one just shrugs and accepts it, in my experience, even those who prefer to *write* ‘Kalen Hughes’ novel’ actually SAY ‘Hughes’s’. Even accepting that spoken and written English are different, I think this is a case where it is better to respect the usual spoken form.
    🙂

    Reply
  132. Kalen, I always use the extra s, because this is the form I *invariably* use in speech: ‘AgTigress’s comment’, not ‘AgTigress’ comment’.
    Although some editors/publishers prefer the other style, and one just shrugs and accepts it, in my experience, even those who prefer to *write* ‘Kalen Hughes’ novel’ actually SAY ‘Hughes’s’. Even accepting that spoken and written English are different, I think this is a case where it is better to respect the usual spoken form.
    🙂

    Reply
  133. Kalen, I always use the extra s, because this is the form I *invariably* use in speech: ‘AgTigress’s comment’, not ‘AgTigress’ comment’.
    Although some editors/publishers prefer the other style, and one just shrugs and accepts it, in my experience, even those who prefer to *write* ‘Kalen Hughes’ novel’ actually SAY ‘Hughes’s’. Even accepting that spoken and written English are different, I think this is a case where it is better to respect the usual spoken form.
    🙂

    Reply
  134. Kalen, I always use the extra s, because this is the form I *invariably* use in speech: ‘AgTigress’s comment’, not ‘AgTigress’ comment’.
    Although some editors/publishers prefer the other style, and one just shrugs and accepts it, in my experience, even those who prefer to *write* ‘Kalen Hughes’ novel’ actually SAY ‘Hughes’s’. Even accepting that spoken and written English are different, I think this is a case where it is better to respect the usual spoken form.
    🙂

    Reply
  135. Kalen, I always use the extra s, because this is the form I *invariably* use in speech: ‘AgTigress’s comment’, not ‘AgTigress’ comment’.
    Although some editors/publishers prefer the other style, and one just shrugs and accepts it, in my experience, even those who prefer to *write* ‘Kalen Hughes’ novel’ actually SAY ‘Hughes’s’. Even accepting that spoken and written English are different, I think this is a case where it is better to respect the usual spoken form.
    🙂

    Reply
  136. Oh, yes, and you would have the backing of the Chicago Manual of Style on this one, Kalen. They say we can eliminate the extra “s” when the “s” ending the name is unpronounced, e.g., “the marquis’ mother.” But they add, “Opt for this practice _only_ if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the “s” is indeed unpronounced.”

    Reply
  137. Oh, yes, and you would have the backing of the Chicago Manual of Style on this one, Kalen. They say we can eliminate the extra “s” when the “s” ending the name is unpronounced, e.g., “the marquis’ mother.” But they add, “Opt for this practice _only_ if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the “s” is indeed unpronounced.”

    Reply
  138. Oh, yes, and you would have the backing of the Chicago Manual of Style on this one, Kalen. They say we can eliminate the extra “s” when the “s” ending the name is unpronounced, e.g., “the marquis’ mother.” But they add, “Opt for this practice _only_ if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the “s” is indeed unpronounced.”

    Reply
  139. Oh, yes, and you would have the backing of the Chicago Manual of Style on this one, Kalen. They say we can eliminate the extra “s” when the “s” ending the name is unpronounced, e.g., “the marquis’ mother.” But they add, “Opt for this practice _only_ if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the “s” is indeed unpronounced.”

    Reply
  140. Oh, yes, and you would have the backing of the Chicago Manual of Style on this one, Kalen. They say we can eliminate the extra “s” when the “s” ending the name is unpronounced, e.g., “the marquis’ mother.” But they add, “Opt for this practice _only_ if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the “s” is indeed unpronounced.”

    Reply
  141. Glad I’m not the only one who’s confused! I usually use the second “s”, but I notice that in most of my reviews they don’t. At least I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for Mr. or Mrs. HUG-HEYS (yes, my faimly does get those calls. LOL!).

    Reply
  142. Glad I’m not the only one who’s confused! I usually use the second “s”, but I notice that in most of my reviews they don’t. At least I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for Mr. or Mrs. HUG-HEYS (yes, my faimly does get those calls. LOL!).

    Reply
  143. Glad I’m not the only one who’s confused! I usually use the second “s”, but I notice that in most of my reviews they don’t. At least I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for Mr. or Mrs. HUG-HEYS (yes, my faimly does get those calls. LOL!).

    Reply
  144. Glad I’m not the only one who’s confused! I usually use the second “s”, but I notice that in most of my reviews they don’t. At least I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for Mr. or Mrs. HUG-HEYS (yes, my faimly does get those calls. LOL!).

    Reply
  145. Glad I’m not the only one who’s confused! I usually use the second “s”, but I notice that in most of my reviews they don’t. At least I always know it’s a telemarketer calling when they ask for Mr. or Mrs. HUG-HEYS (yes, my faimly does get those calls. LOL!).

    Reply
  146. I believe that the general rule is to add the S, with specific exceptions for time-honored biblical and classical names: Moses’ staff, Socrates’ teachings. But even these work better for me with the ‘s added.
    Although I am persistently annoyed by having to do so when discussing Dorothy L. Sayers’s work.

    Reply
  147. I believe that the general rule is to add the S, with specific exceptions for time-honored biblical and classical names: Moses’ staff, Socrates’ teachings. But even these work better for me with the ‘s added.
    Although I am persistently annoyed by having to do so when discussing Dorothy L. Sayers’s work.

    Reply
  148. I believe that the general rule is to add the S, with specific exceptions for time-honored biblical and classical names: Moses’ staff, Socrates’ teachings. But even these work better for me with the ‘s added.
    Although I am persistently annoyed by having to do so when discussing Dorothy L. Sayers’s work.

    Reply
  149. I believe that the general rule is to add the S, with specific exceptions for time-honored biblical and classical names: Moses’ staff, Socrates’ teachings. But even these work better for me with the ‘s added.
    Although I am persistently annoyed by having to do so when discussing Dorothy L. Sayers’s work.

    Reply
  150. I believe that the general rule is to add the S, with specific exceptions for time-honored biblical and classical names: Moses’ staff, Socrates’ teachings. But even these work better for me with the ‘s added.
    Although I am persistently annoyed by having to do so when discussing Dorothy L. Sayers’s work.

    Reply
  151. One of the first times I taught summer school for high school students, I was determined that, if nothing else, they would learn to use the apostrophe successfully. The result was that, at the end, they put an apostrophe on EVERYTHING, even verbs, that ended with an s!
    After that, I would keep my apostrophe lessons short.

    Reply
  152. One of the first times I taught summer school for high school students, I was determined that, if nothing else, they would learn to use the apostrophe successfully. The result was that, at the end, they put an apostrophe on EVERYTHING, even verbs, that ended with an s!
    After that, I would keep my apostrophe lessons short.

    Reply
  153. One of the first times I taught summer school for high school students, I was determined that, if nothing else, they would learn to use the apostrophe successfully. The result was that, at the end, they put an apostrophe on EVERYTHING, even verbs, that ended with an s!
    After that, I would keep my apostrophe lessons short.

    Reply
  154. One of the first times I taught summer school for high school students, I was determined that, if nothing else, they would learn to use the apostrophe successfully. The result was that, at the end, they put an apostrophe on EVERYTHING, even verbs, that ended with an s!
    After that, I would keep my apostrophe lessons short.

    Reply
  155. One of the first times I taught summer school for high school students, I was determined that, if nothing else, they would learn to use the apostrophe successfully. The result was that, at the end, they put an apostrophe on EVERYTHING, even verbs, that ended with an s!
    After that, I would keep my apostrophe lessons short.

    Reply

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