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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
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 21:09
  • Sorry, AJ; if you’re trying to use reco’s then, by definition, you’re insisting the choice in abbreviations be changed. Those who insist reco works might be able to explain their rules. Most of us know there is no standard abbreviation for recommendation; if there were it would prolly be rec(c)s, with no apostrophe. If you want to insist, what d’you think the basic rules of apostrophes say, please? There can’t be a question of an apostrophe being omitted. If it doesn’t belong there, it simply doesn’t belong there. If it does, it should be included; no kind of *omission. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:34

4 Answers 4

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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!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 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. Commented Jun 13, 2011 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.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 21:40
  • They're were too improper apostrophe's inn frame six. :)
    – Spare Oom
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 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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