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87 votes
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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 ...
herisson's user avatar
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65 votes
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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'...
user2474226's user avatar
28 votes

Can you write "... me's" (the possessive)?

"The person behind me's breathing" is called a "group genitive". Grammarian Richard Nordquist states in his introduction to the topic on ThoughtCo: In English grammar, the group ...
Shoe's user avatar
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17 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 ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
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17 votes

Why does Kipling use an apostrophe on 'rickshaw?

According to the OED, Rickshaw is from the Japanese jinrikisha A light two-wheeled hooded vehicle having springs and two shafts, drawn by one or more men. First used in Japan c1870, but now common in ...
Stuart F's user avatar
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15 votes

"Aliens, whose appearance mirrored human’s, appeared..."

Your friend's sentence is indeed not grammatical English. However, all of the variations below can be correct, with subtle differences in meaning: "Aliens, whose appearance mirrored humans' [...
Ilmari Karonen's user avatar
14 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 ...
tchrist's user avatar
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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 ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
14 votes
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"Aliens, whose appearance mirrored human’s, appeared..."

"The appearance of the aliens mirrored the appearance of humans", so it should be humans' with an apostrophe.
Kate Bunting's user avatar
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 ...
tchrist's user avatar
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8 votes

Master thesis, master's degree thesis or master degree thesis

https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/24377/use-master-thesis-or-masters-thesis "Grammatically speaking, master's thesis unequivocally means a thesis of a master. Master thesis can be read the same ...
bookmanu's user avatar
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8 votes
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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 ...
R Mac's user avatar
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8 votes
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Why is there an apostrophe in the name Ilya M. Sobol'?

It's a diacritic marker The key is in the original Russian name: Илья Меерович Соболь. The last letter there (ь) is a soft sign, which is sometimes represented by an apostrophe in transliteration ...
Laurel's user avatar
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7 votes
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Apostrophes in a list of people

If the boat is posssessed equally by the three, you only need put the apostrophe on the last person's name. E.g., John, Jacob, and Mary's boat. The possessive, in a list, on the last person shows ...
stampedunder's user avatar
7 votes
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"The species/species'/species's survival..."

The online Chicago Manual of Style (both 16th and 17th editions) states: When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural (i.e., the plural is uninflected), the possessives of ...
Arm the good guys in America's user avatar
7 votes
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What is the correct way to say "It was this week that Justin and my lives changed forever"?

The least amount of restructuring I can think of is: It was this week that both my life and Justin's changed forever. The use of both makes it clear that there are two lives—rather than a shared ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
6 votes

Is the possessive of "one" spelled "ones" or "one's"?

Indefinite pronouns like one and somebody: one's, somebody's The possessive of the pronoun one is spelled one's. There are many types of pronouns. Unfortunately, people explaining the mnemonic for ...
herisson's user avatar
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6 votes
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What does "carry't" mean?

In Early Modern English, vowels that didn't represent any sound were often dropped and people indicated this omission by using an apostrophe. It was mostly used in past tense and past participles when ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

How do you punctuate what FFS expands to?

I have always written it as 'for fuck's sake' when I have needed to. Definition of 'FFS' in British English slang ABBREVIATION FOR the taboo expression 'for fuck's sake': used esp in social media, ...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
6 votes

Why no apostrophe in the possessive "it"?

It's purely conventional. In linguistics, writing systems are usually considered a separate thing from the language itself—they tend to be deliberately constructed and taught, and can be deliberately ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 1,130
5 votes

Is "mens" a valid word?

The "possessive" or genitive -'(s) construction in English has several uses. In modern English, the most common and productive usage is to turn an entire NP (or DP, depending on what framework you're ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.4k
5 votes

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym / initialism?

Just a small addition to the subject and one that is probably as much related to typography as it is to grammar... There is an issue with all-caps. For example, if we were: Talking about ATMs. Then ...
PerryW's user avatar
  • 249
5 votes

Is Lewis Carroll correct in his suggestion on some abbreviations?

Even Carroll admits, by the word 'innovations' that these spellings are not the usual ones. He had the same rights to change English orthography as any of us have; the method is to use (and explain as ...
Tim Lymington's user avatar
5 votes

Why is "Geography's test was difficult" ungrammatical?

We do find geography's X with certain meanings. R. B. Cathcart; American Geography's Image of Human Life in Earth J. M. Olson et al.; Geography's Inner Worlds G. K. Conolly, ed. Geography's Place: ...
DjinTonic's user avatar
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5 votes
Accepted

Is there a way to create a contraction between any noun and the word "is"?

Yes, you can say "Amanda's out of town". Any noun or noun phrase may be part of a contraction. For example, "the king of England's about to die". One of the comments above says ...
siride's user avatar
  • 1,052
4 votes

Apostrophe vs. Single Quote

You asked about the semantic difference, but there is also a technical difference - ASCII and typewriter keyboards do not have a 'single quote' character, only QUOTATION MARK (U+0022) and APOSTROPHE (...
Dave's user avatar
  • 159
4 votes
Accepted

When to use opening or closing single quotes

In numbers that have been abbreviated, such as: in the ’90s Dean’s List ’15-’16 The apostrophe denotes the presence of abbreviation, much as in: I’ll, let’s, where’d, can’t, ma’am, e’en, ... ’tis, ’...
user21820's user avatar
  • 2,159
4 votes

Found in Mary'r Room

Assuming we're talking about the his-possessive and its ilk (also called the "possessive dative"), the forms with "her" and "their" were used "very rarely", so ...
Laurel's user avatar
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