Friday, April 18, 2008

Apostrophes' Rules

Yesterday, I had an apostrophe-ridden day. Weird, I know. Two separate apostrophe incident's occurred. Both involved the following grammatical rule:

The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns by adding an apostrophe only.
The first incident was my reading a post on Punctuality Rules, one of my new favorite blogs. Anyhow, the gist of the post is that in 1894, the United States Board on Geographic Names abolished apostrophes in geographical names throughout the country. Martha's Vineyard subsequently fought for the right to retain its apostrophe and won. According to the post, only five locations in the U.S. have the right to use an apostrophe in their names.

The second incident was a round of emails set at work debating whether the plural of Charles is Charles' or Charles's. (For the record, it's Charles's.) This prompted a coworker to forward me an article about the United States Supreme Court's use of apostrophes. Apparently, seven of the justices believe that the plural possessive of Kansas is Kansas', while only two justices believe that it's Kansas's. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, it is Kansas's.

I thought everyone would like to know.