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When abbreviating the word "recommendations" as "reco's", is it proper to use the apostrophe to show that it's an abbreviation, or does it conflict with a possessive apostrophe?

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I recommend that you not use this abbreviation. –  Marcin Jun 13 '11 at 21:00
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I also find "reco" to be jarring to the ear, and - worse - it isn't immediately clear what it means. May I suggest "picks", as in the phrase "Staff Picks" that you occasionally see in bookstores? –  MT_Head Jun 13 '11 at 21:06
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Unfortunately the choice in abbreviations is not something that can be changed. I'm only interested in whether or not the apostrophe itself should or should not be omitted. –  A.J. Brown Jun 13 '11 at 21:09
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The use of the apostrophe to denote an abbreviation (more accurately, to denote missing letters) is known as an "apologetic apostrophe". It is recommended by "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" that apologetic apostrophes be used only for "novel" abbreviations. They should not be used for abbreviations that have become common words in their own right (fridge, nuke, phone). The exceptional case is for those abbreviations more commonly known as "contractions"; "I've", "you'll", "don't", etc., where the use of the apostrophe became common along with the word.

So, short answer, it depends on your audience; those who have never seen the term before would probably understand it better with the apostrophe, while those who use the term in speech would get it faster without. The fact that it's audience-dependent would lead me to say that the abbreviated term is jargon and should be avoided when writing for a general audience. However, given that, the solution becomes simple; drop the apostrophe, because if you're using it at all, it's common to your audience.

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that is a FANTASTIC tip, thanks. Apologetic apostrophes should only be used in novel, running, situations. (For example, right here at hand I might type "Ap'getic ap'phes", say.) That is a great tip, thanks! –  Joe Blow Jun 13 '11 at 21:55
    
ES&L covered that type of usage; it's considered an abuse, but hey, Shakespeare did it too: "Fie on't'! Oh, fie!". –  KeithS Jun 14 '11 at 22:12
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I believe the simple answer is recos.

Yes, it's a horrible abbreviation, but given that, it's just "Here are the recos for today."

No apostrophe.

And, I urge you to look at frame six! ... http://achewood.com/index.php?date=09122008

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Frame six has a mistake that is similar to how people confuse "its" and "it's" in their writing. –  Randolf Richardson Jun 13 '11 at 21:37
    
@Randall .. what? Frame six (6) is the joke about "The Window Guy's" Note that idiotically the signwriter inserted an apostrophe in a plural, "guys". Incidentally, "mouse-over" the strip for more comedy. –  Joe Blow Jun 13 '11 at 21:40
    
They're were too improper apostrophe's inn frame six. :) –  Spare Oom Jun 13 '11 at 22:45
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The only time you'd use an apostrophe with the plural of an abbreviation is when your abbreviation itself has punctuation: C.O.D.'s but not CDs.

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say Andrew, why the heck would you use an apostrophe on a plural of C.O.D.s? Note, an unrelated issue "Cash on Delivery" is one of those phrases that is ultra-weird to pluralize. So let's say A.D.C. analog digital convertor. The plural is simply A.D.C.s, analog digital convertors. Things like J.P. justice of the peace, of course it's justiceS of the peace anyway, so again you'd never use an apostrophe in J.P.s. If you use dial. dialect or dict. dictionary, you simply use dial.s or dict.s. What's the apostrophe for? " dial. " means "dialect" and then you adjacently add one s. –  Joe Blow Jun 13 '11 at 21:35
    
..cont. .. if you think of men's double barreled names, like T.S. or C.J.. If you had a group of such guys, it would very simply be "I know three T.S.s alltogether" or "We had two different C.J.s in the company." The guy's "name," his nickname, short name, written name, is "C.J." You would never use an apostrophe when pluralizing that. –  Joe Blow Jun 13 '11 at 21:36
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Do you use the word reco in speech?

  • Yes, I do.

    So it's the jargon of your field. Is your audience familiar with this jargon?

    • Yes, they are.

      Write "reco".

    • No, they aren't.

      Write "recommendation".

  • No, I don't.

    So you use this abbreviation in writing only. Is your audience familiar with this abbreviation?

    • Yes, they are.

      Then an apostrophe is unnecessary. Avoid needless clutter, and just write "repo".

    • No, they aren't.

      If you must use "reco", you will need to help your audience recognise that it's an abbreviation, so add an apostrophe.

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