88

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 to M‘CULLOCH AND THE TURNED COMMA, by Michael G. Collins (The Green Bag Second Series, pages 265-275, 2009), the upside down and backwards apostrophe turns out ...


65

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's complement" and "ones' complement": a two's complement number is complemented with respect to a single power of 2, whereas a ones' complement number is ...


45

The fourth example is the correct interpretation of day's, but with two things to keep in mind. First, in your conclusion you flipped the words around incorrectly*; the journey "belongs to" the day, not the other way around. You could re-write the sentence as: The house is a journey of a full day from here. Second, while the journey is "of a day," this ...


41

It's called a "transferred epithet"- the possessive case is incidental, as in... I had a good night's sleep: The good sleep was mine to enjoy, but it is attributed to the night it happened. He put in a honest day's work: The quality or extent of work belonged to the doer, but it is attributed to the day.


29

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 cover the topic of forming possessives with apostrophe-s (as it's a frequent issue even with native speakers). You should be able to find copies of at least one ...


26

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 spelled out in letters, some style guides recommend omitting an apostrophe, while others recommend including it. For example, from The Chicago Manual of Style, ...


25

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 apostrophe. Such an exception does not apply to column. If you want to refer to the width of a particular column, you would say the column's width. In the ...


22

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 (Oxford University Press, 2002): 5.2.1 Possession Use 's after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns that do not end in s: [Examples:] the boy's ...


21

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 the only way to do proper English; just the way they do it there. Your goal here is to get a CS Master's, not a Booker Prize. Look at it this way: Your advisor ...


19

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 speakers who inexcusably use of the wrong contraction for "it is." Here is Churchill's argument: The word it's in particular, is now generally robbed of ...


18

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


17

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 that we see in them adaptation, not indeed to the animal's or plant's own good, but to man's use or fancy. […] How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of ...


15

Since this is a question about acronyms, and the Federal Government's bureaucracy is notorious for using acronyms, I decided to look up the answer in the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) Style Manual (2000). Rule 8.11 of the GPO Style Manual states: "While an apostrophe is used to indicate possession and contractions, it is not generally ...


15

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 not the Brazilian army, but instead owned or run by a particular Brazilian (perhaps an army of toy soldiers, or an army of mercenaries), then the Brazilian's ...


14

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 form a singular possessive, add 's to most singular nouns—even those ending in -s, -ss, and -x (hence, Jones's, Nichols's, witness's, Vitex's). ... There are four ...


14

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 lot in formal documents and this probably had an influence elsewhere. Older English language (and Latin) wills, records and legal documents are often full of ...


13

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. . . . It's common sense. . . . It’s common sense. . . . I would avoid the first, accept the second, and consider the third to be superior to the other two. One ...


13

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 concluding that "we must stick to the ancestral rule which, with a few exceptions, reserves possessives in 's for ownership by a person." Shoe's ...


13

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


12

"A day's work" typically means the amount of work one would normally do over the course of a day. There is no objective measure of this as the amount of work would vary by person and by job. For most people, though, it would not be possible to do "a day's work" between waking and breakfast, so in the Dickens quote the phrase is probably being used for ...


12

The 's on the day's is possesive in your case - but see @Simha's answer More time examples Three months' experience One month's experience Today's appointment In two days' time A year's worth of magazines


12

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 and there isn't necessarily just one wasp associated with each nest. "Nests" is the ordinary plural form of "nest." Nothing here should bother a well-educated ...


10

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 more common." However, he adds "... both structures are possible in some expressions. [..] Unfortunately it is not possible to give useful general rules in ...


10

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.


9

No less than OSHA uses MSDSs. MSDS's last S is Sheet. Recommended Format for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). This is also how we refer to them in the Emergency Department. Also: Free access to more than 4.5 million MSDSs available online, brought to you by 3E - msds.com


9

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 possessive of a proper name reflected the diction appropriate to a member of the aristocracy ("Lord Nonsuch his") and the diction appropriate to members of ...


9

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 tooth it is to have a thankless child! More modern examples (and older ones) can be taken from book titles: The Monkey's Paw. Man's Search for Meaning. Cat's ...


9

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 plurals, either. The possessive form is the same no matter how the word is spelled or what its number is or what its capitalization is, because it follows from ...


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