87 votes
Accepted

Why were Scottish & Irish names once rendered with apostrophes instead of "Mac" or "Mc"

While you may have seen M’ with an apostrophe, look carefully: you might have instead seen M‘ with the character used for an opening quotation mark. The difference is small but significant. According ...
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  • 73.3k
65 votes
Accepted

Why is the apostrophe positioned differently in "ones' complement" than "two's complement"?

Donald Knuth, that doyen of computer science, says in Art of Computer Programming, Vol 2.: Detail-oriented readers and copy-editors should notice the position of the apostrophe in terms like "two'...
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29 votes
Accepted

Apostrophe for indicating possessive. How do I convince my professor?

As few people are addressing the '"more scientific™" sources' bit of the question, it should be pointed out that there are a number of English style guides out there, practically all of which should ...
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  • 680
26 votes
Accepted

Is an apostrophe with a decade (e.g. 1920’s) generally considered “incorrect”?

My answer focuses on the header question about decades—which is the question that most readers will probably expect to find answers to here. With regard to decades expressed in numerals rather than ...
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  • 151k
25 votes
Accepted

Is possessive's apostrophe dispensable in any case?

There are a few limited cases for which an apostrophe is not used to indicate possession. For example, if you're referring to something belonging to it or her, the correct form is its or hers, with no ...
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  • 1,055
22 votes

Apostrophe for indicating possessive. How do I convince my professor?

The strongest endorsement that I could find from a UK English source in favor of using 's after singular nouns of any kind to indicate possession is this brief treatment from The Oxford Guide to Style ...
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  • 151k
21 votes

Apostrophe for indicating possessive. How do I convince my professor?

A piece of advice here from someone who did a CS Master's thesis himself: You don't. You write it the way they want it written. Consider it like a house style guide. The rules in style guides aren't ...
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  • 18.3k
20 votes

Why is there a distinction between "its" and "it's"?

T. O. Churchill, A Grammar of the English Language (1823) identifies two somewhat surprising culprits as being responsible for the deplorable rise of the apostropheless its: printers, and English ...
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  • 151k
19 votes
Accepted

“other’s lives” vs. “others’ lives”

Since you are talking about multiple others ("...the lives of others"), then the apostrophe comes after the s. having an impact on others' lives
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  • 3,568
17 votes

Apostrophe for indicating possessive. How do I convince my professor?

From Charles Darwin's Origin of Species OR THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. From the First Edition, 1859 One of the most remarkable features in our domesticated races is ...
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  • 85.4k
15 votes

"Brazilian's army's ammo supply": is it right to use apostrophes on two consecutive nouns like this?

It would depend on what you meant. If you mean the Brazilian army was short of ammunition, then you would write the Brazilian Army's ammo supply is low. But if you were referring to an army that is ...
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  • 36.4k
14 votes

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003) offers the following discussion of how to handle possessive proper names ending in -s: POSSESSIVES. A. Singular Possessives. To ...
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  • 151k
14 votes
Accepted

Else's or Elses' or Elses

It's "else's". Here, someone else is a singular compound noun, and the novel belongs to them. The possessive apostrophe is used.
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14 votes

Why were Scottish & Irish names once rendered with apostrophes instead of "Mac" or "Mc"

It's a good question and I didn't have the answer so I asked it on r/AskLinguistics on Reddit and got a good answer. I'm going to quote it (with little changes): The Victorians abbreviated things a ...
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13 votes
Accepted

Which is the correct 'apostrophe' to use when typing? ' (quote) or ` (backtick)

A backtick would be my last recommendation. A straight single-quote is acceptable, and a curly close quote can be substituted as an improvement. In other words, of these three: It`s common sense. . . ...
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  • 57.9k
13 votes

Is it correct to use an apostrophe to indicate something that belongs to an object?

Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage (1966) vigorously opposes applying a possessive 's to an inanimate thing (as in "this blog's existence"), calling such possessives "false" and ...
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  • 151k
12 votes
Accepted

A plurality of nests of wasps

Danger! Wasp Nests! No apostrophe in this case, because there is no possessive*. Here "Wasp" is an attributive noun, and therefore can be in the singular form even though there is more than one nest ...
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  • 73.3k
11 votes

Is the plural form of ID spelled ID's or ID?

It would be IDs. Were you to use the apostrophe (i.e, ID's), that would imply possession. If you're simply referring to a group of IDs, you drop the apostrophe.
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  • 168
10 votes

Is it correct to use an apostrophe to indicate something that belongs to an object?

Michael Swan writes in Practical English Usage (2005.441-2) "With nouns which are not the names of people, animal, countries, etc, 's is less common, and a structure with a preposition (usually of) is ...
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  • 4,660
10 votes

Possessive form for a surname ending with "z"

Spelling Possessives: A simple rule with zero exceptions There is no special rule for surnames which does not also apply to common nouns. For that matter, there is no special rule for singulars versus ...
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  • 127k
9 votes

"My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner"

I am married, I share things with my spouse for instance, a house. But there are some things we don't share. For example I have a small blue Fiat car while my spouse has a green Jaguar sports car. If ...
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  • 85.4k
9 votes

What is the short form for 'little' ? Is it li'l or lil'?

Ngram shows li'l beating out lil' and li'l' since before 1900. (Note that you must press "Search lots of books" after clicking on the link.) And since Lil is a very popular name (both as a first ...
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  • 26.7k
9 votes

Odd possessive form of a proper name: Why does Dryden write “Lord Nonsuch his” instead of “Lord Nonsuch’s” but “Bibber’s” instead of “Bibber his”?

The aristocratic usage theory In a comment (now vanished, along with several others that once appeared beneath the original question), a commenter opined that the different ways of handling the ...
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  • 151k
9 votes

Apostrophe for indicating possessive. How do I convince my professor?

Nobody's more standard than Shakespeare, who says: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude. How sharper than a serpent's ...
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  • 2,180
8 votes

A unique case of capitalising mid-sentence and using apostrophe 's'

When you use a proper noun containing the as an adjective, you usually drop the. So you would say former Roots member, Malik B, and not "former The Roots member". Similarly, even without a the ...
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8 votes

Do I add " ’s " after the number on a pope/king’s name? (e.g. Pope Paul VI’s)

The English apostrophe-s is not a case inflection the way you have in German or Russian, Latin or Greek. Rather it is a clitic that attaches to the end of the entire noun phrase, not merely to the ...
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  • 127k
8 votes
Accepted

Does a possessive still require an apostrophe when a noun has been omitted to avoid repetition?

In the example sentence, "Their understanding of the subject is as good as their masters," the actual thing being compared is the understanding of their masters. The sentence therefore requires a ...
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  • 3,224
7 votes
Accepted

To drop or not to drop the s after the apostrophe (when the main word ends in s and the word has is being contracted)

If you were saying "Carlos has got it", it would be likely to be contracted to "Carlos 'as got it", perhaps even shortening the 'as to almost a schwa. What you wouldn't say is "Carlos got it". Thus ...
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