English Language Stuff
Here is a page of English language stuff that I always seem to be forgetting.
Properly Spelled Words
Most of these are from The World Almanac 2011, p. 715
Forming a possessive case noun... It sometimes makes more sense to see the 's as a particle (or clitic) and not a case form. It may be somewhat analogous to the Afrikaans particle se. See brother-in-law's and Mark, Luke, and John's car below. Also, don't forget the example of I saw the King of Denmark's crown but I saw the Kings of Denmark's crowns.
My Handy Table with Examples
|Possession in English|
|Nouns in an s-sound|
(also z-, č-, š-, or (d)ž-sound)
|Nouns with an irregular plural|
not in an s-sound
|Nom. Sing.||ox, deer|
|Poss. Sing.||ox's, deer's|
|Nom. Plur.||oxen, deer|
|Poss. Plur.||oxen's, deer's|
|Nouns with an irregular plural|
in an s-sound
|Nom. Sing.||Smith, Franks, Murphy|
|Poss. Sing.||Smith's, Franks's, Murphy's|
|Nom. Plur.||Smiths, Frankses, Murphys|
|Poss. Plur.||Smiths', Frankses', Murphys'|
|Family Names in Silent -s, -x, or -z|
|Nom. Sing.||Margaux, Descartes, Dumas|
|Poss. Sing.||Margaux'(s), Descartes'(s), Dumas'(s)|
|Nom. Plur.||Margaux, Descartes, Dumas|
|Poss. Plur.||?Margaux's, ?Descartes's, ?Dumas's|
|Abbreviations and Numbers|
Chicago has PhDs and Ph.D.'s
|Nom. Sing||IRA, PhD, Ph.D.|
|Poss. Sing.||IRA's, PhD's, Ph.D.'s|
|Nom. Plur.||IRAs, PhDs, Ph.D.'s, 1960s|
|Poss. Plur.||IRAs', PhDs', ?Ph.D.s', 1960s'|
|Latin (and Greek)|
|Nom. sing.||alumnus, alumna, medium, index|
|Poss. Sing.||alumnus's, alumna's, medium's, index's|
|Nom. Plur.||alumni, alumnae, media, indices|
|Poss. Plur.||alumni's, alumnae's, media's, indices'|
|For Euphony's Sake|
(An 's in the poss. sing.
is always acceptable here
according to MLA. Chicago disagrees.
Also, polysyllabic Greeks in -s are here.)
|Nom. Sing.||appearance, Jesus, Xerxes|
|Poss. Sing.||appearance'(s), Jesus'(s), Xerxes'(s)|
The possessive plurals are usually not used.
The sentence is reworded.
|Nom. Sing.||attorney general, brother-in-law, woman doctor|
|Poss. Sing.||attorney general's, brother-in-law's, ?woman doctor's|
|Nom. Plur.||attorneys general, brothers-in-law, women doctors|
|Poss. Plur.||attorneys general's, brothers-in-law's, ?women doctors'|
|Already Has an Apostrophe|
|What To Do Here?|
Barclays and St Andrews no longer
officially have an appostrophe.
|Nom. Sing.||Barclays, St Andrews|
|Poss. Sing.||?Barclays's, ?St Andrews's|
|Nom. Sing.||one, everyone, it|
|Poss. Sing.||one's, everyone's, its|
More Apostrophe Hell—Presidents' Day
Because Presidents Day is not the official name of the federal holiday [actually "Washington's Birthday"], there is variation in how it is rendered. Both Presidents Day and Presidents' Day are common today, and both are considered correct by dictionaries and usage manuals. Presidents' Day was once the predominant style, and it is still favored by the majority of significant authorities—notably, The Chicago Manual of Style (followed by most book publishers and some magazines), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Webster's Third International Dictionary, and Garner's Modern American Usage. In recent years, as the use of attributive nouns (nouns acting as modifiers) has become more widespread, the popularity of "Presidents Day" has increased. This style is favored by the Associated Press Stylebook (followed by most newspapers and some magazines) and the Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference (ISBN 978-1582973357). President's Day is a misspelling when used with the intention of celebrating more than one individual (see also apostrophe); however, as an alternate rendering of "Washington's Birthday," or as denominating the commemoration of the presidency as a singular institution, it is a proper spelling of a possessive. Indeed, this spelling was considered for use as the official federal designation by Robert McClory, a congressman from Illinois who was tasked with getting the 1968 federal holiday reorganization bill through the House Judiciary Committee. Nonetheless, while Washington's Birthday was originally established to honor George Washington, the term Presidents Day was informally coined in a deliberate attempt to use the holiday to honor multiple presidents, and is virtually always used that way today. Though President's Day is sometimes seen in print — even sometimes on government Web sites, this style is not endorsed by any major dictionary or usage authority.