A friend wrote: "I just feel that now is a good time to reiterate that pluralization does not require an apostrophe."

In reply I wrote:

Sometimes it does. "Mind your Ps and Qs" doesn't need them; however "Mind your p's and q's" does.

He replies: "Your p's and q's what?"

I'm 99.9% sure that I don't need to write "need them" at the end of my sentence in order for it to be a complete sentence, but I hate being wrong more than I like to correct people so I just want to make sure.


You're fine. First of all, the semicolon does not end the sentence so the first need is still there. As explained in this wikipedia page (which is quoting The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Chapter 19, §7)

While terminal marks (i.e., full stops, exclamation marks, and question marks) mark the end of a sentence, the comma, semicolon and colon are normally sentence internal, making them secondary boundary marks. The semicolon falls between terminal marks and the comma; its strength is equal to that of the colon.

In any case, you can have a perfectly grammatical (albeit minor) yet incomplete sentence:

Is everything alright?


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  • Alright, you've got me a little confused. It sounds like you are saying that if I were to take just the part after the semicolon that it would be an incomplete sentence but that this is valid. Does that sound right? – BVernon Sep 15 '13 at 22:26
  • Also, in your example of an incomplete sentence ("Is everything alright?") there is a subject (everything) and a verb (is) so how is that incomplete? – BVernon Sep 15 '13 at 22:30
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    (1) Ditch the idea that only 'complete sentences' are legal. (2) The 'incomplete sentence' terdon gives as an example here is the 'Yes.' Though I'd call it a 'sentence substitute'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '13 at 23:08
  • @BVernon what EdwinAshworth said. The example sentence was indeed Yes. Granted, it is an extreme example but it is actually perfectly grammatical despite not being a complete sentence. A sentence does not really need to be complete in order to be grammatical. As for the semicolon, I am just saying that what you have posted is a single, long sentence. Therefore, you already have a valid verb in the first need them and do not need another. – terdon Sep 16 '13 at 0:53
  • Thanks. I understood the fact that an incomplete sentence is legal, but my friend said that I didn't 'complete' my sentence. Being the overly analytical person that I am, I would prefer to be able to respond that it is in fact complete and not just legal. :) Anyway, thanks for the help guys! – BVernon Sep 18 '13 at 7:27

He is making a little joke, and treating p's and q's as possessives.

He is saying that "Mind your p's and q's" is missing the noun that your p and q have. "Mind your p's and q's descender," for example. [A descender is the part of the letter below the baseline it sits on.]

He is not commenting on the sentence overall, and you don't need "need them" after does.

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  • Sorry, I didn't include the entire conversation but he did specifically say "You didn't finish your sentence." – BVernon Sep 15 '13 at 22:24
  • I still reckon he meant your reported sentence in the quotes. – Andrew Leach Sep 15 '13 at 22:33

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