What is the correct spelling and grammar for the following sentence?

These are known as the three "V's": veracity, voraciousness and vivacity.

In particular, should the "V" be capitalized, should it have an apostrophe, should there be quotes around V's and are there any other mistakes in the sentence?


For some reason I can't get this graph to display the apostophized r's and R's here, but if you click on this chart to follow the link (where you also have to click "Search books" on that page)...


...you'll see that the capitalised versions have always been more common, but over recent decades the apostophized version the three R's has gained currency to the point where it's (just) become the most common format.

I see no reason why OP's three V's should be any different. Personally I'd never enclose the whole thing in double quotes - it doesn't add anything to the meaning, and it's positively undesirable in terms of legibility.

  • I wonder if a commonly understood usage such as the three R's might be spelt differently from when a new usage is being introduced such as in my example. – Lembik Oct 7 '14 at 16:02
  • Thank you. Does it not look odd to you to have a capital V directly followed by three examples where the V is in fact not capitalized? – Lembik Oct 7 '14 at 16:06
  • That would be blindingly unlikely - the purpose of language is to communicate. So whenever a "new" usage is implemented, we naturally tend to retain any relevant and useful aspects of existing usages so there's less to learn. Why introduce pointless variations to orthography if they don't mean anything? But in this specific case it's pretty obvious the apostrophized capitalised version is the way of the future. – FumbleFingers Oct 7 '14 at 16:09
  • If you look at some Google Books entries for "the three R's reading" you'll see that very few of them capitalize Reading, Writing, or 'Rithmetic. And I don't believe that reflects some "special" principle just because two out of three of the words don't really start with "r". – FumbleFingers Oct 7 '14 at 16:12

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