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#177692 - 06/23/08 06:02 PM the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith.  
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I am new to this site, and with all the screen busy-ness I am not sure where to go. But the topic today is the appearance of the apostrophe where it is not needed as in greengrocer's.
I am very irritated when it is misused, and this comes from many years of attempting to teach High School Grammar and English.
The misuse of the apostrophe appears everywhere, but it most
irritates me when used in obituaries and church announcements;
"burial will be at St. Bernard's". This indicates ownership and St. Bernard has been gone a long time. St. Mary's Church is hosting its annual carnival - that is another. Just thought I would get myself started. Apostrophe s indicates ownership.


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177695 - 06/23/08 06:57 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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Why is the letter s even added to a church name to begin with? I went to two catholic grade schools, St. Lawrence and St. Matthew. I just looked at pictures of both schools and, in the photos, each of them has an apostrophe s added to the end of the name on the sign on the front of the school. Talk about keeping the cycle of ignorance in motion, the school is teaching the wrong thing by example.

I always thought this was a Wisconsin problem more than anywhere else. I haven't seen it in use as often anywhere else. In South Florida, there was an tendency to add a letter s to the end of mine, as in, "Give it to me, it's mines." I even heard teachers use it there. I had to fight to keep my children from using it. I'm glad I stopped them from using it while there because, after moving them to Wisconsin, they might have been tempted to add an apostrophe (mine's.) I'm sure I'd have heard then that the word shows possession.

#177696 - 06/23/08 07:02 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: mistermr]  
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Did I type "AN tendency?" Here I am going on about the improper use of the apostrophe and the read it back and find a typo of my own. As I'm sure you know, I meant to type, "A tendency."

#177697 - 06/23/08 07:24 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: mistermr]  
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We don't worry a great deal about typos, here. Welcome aBoard, you two! Just for the record, we've gotten into the habit of discussing the Words a Day in the Weekly Themes category, but again, not to worry: you won't be flogged!

I was planning to start a thread here anyway, about today's Word (sort of), so I'll just add on to yours.

What do the rest of you think about the font and style change? I don't like it. For one thing, it's too big; for another, mine has 3 or 4 of those dreaded red xes, which makes me wonder what I'm missing. I don't know, it just looks too...formal, somehow; not as homey and welcoming as it used to. \:\(

#177699 - 06/23/08 08:38 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Jackie]  
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If you're going to start complaining about how churches are named you're going to have to start with the Pope and St. Peter's Basilica which is Basilica Sancti Petri in Latin (Sancti Petri is genitive case therefore "belonging to Saint Peter", i.e. St. Peter's) and Basilica di San Pietro in Italian (of Saint Peter, i.e. St. Peter's again).

Last edited by Myridon; 06/23/08 08:42 PM.
#177700 - 06/23/08 09:51 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Myridon]  
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welcome, all.

Jackie, you can always move this thread, ya know....

:¬ )


formerly known as etaoin...
#177703 - 06/23/08 10:39 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Buffalo Shrdlu]  
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Genitive doesn't always imply ownership. I can speak of my boss; it doesn't mean I own her.

#177704 - 06/23/08 10:50 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Jackie]  
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 Originally Posted By: Jackie

What do the rest of you think about the font and style change? I don't like it. For one thing, it's too big; for another, mine has 3 or 4 of those dreaded red xes, which makes me wonder what I'm missing. I don't know, it just looks too...formal, somehow; not as homey and welcoming as it used to. \:\(


I just thought it looked cramped, esp. with that summary inset and image jammed in there.

#177708 - 06/23/08 11:53 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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Yes, leaving aside the theological issue of naming churches for saints which is irrelevant to this conversation, St Mary's is simply an alternative short hand way of saying "The Church of St Mary," the 'of' indicating the genitive case. As others have pointed out, the genitive means more than the possessive. It doesn't mean St Bernard or St Harry OWN the church, but that the church is dedicated especially to them, or named after them.

So the use of the apostrophe in those cases IS grammatically correct IMO.

#177713 - 06/24/08 02:04 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Buffalo Shrdlu]  
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eta, come here a minute; I have something for you...

#177719 - 06/24/08 10:07 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: mistermr]  
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Hi, this is my first time to this board and so far I like what I see.

Yes, I have seen many churches shorten the Church's proper name by adding that apostrophe. Most Churches, as most everyone seems to know already, go by a more formal appellation such as, "Church of the Good Shepherd" or "St. Ann Church," or even, "Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul."

Now, back to that topic starter - the sign that read, "Please Drive Carefully, for our childrens sake. What a mess that is.

Shouldn't it actually read this way? [i]Please drive carefully, for our childrens' sakes.[i]

MisterMr., I got a laugh out of yours: "Give it to me, it's mines." In the hills of Western Pa., which is where my mother was born and raised, the townsfolk would refer to "You" in the plural not as another "you," but, rather, as "Youins." Such as, "Are you-ins going to the movies this afternoon?"

#177720 - 06/24/08 10:24 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Go.- It'sRed]  
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 Originally Posted By: Go.- It'sRed
Hi, this is my first time to this board and so far I like what I see.

Welcome. Give it time, that may change... \:D

 Quote:
MisterMr., I got a laugh out of yours: "Give it to me, it's mines." In the hills of Western Pa., which is where my mother was born and raised, the townsfolk would refer to "You" in the plural not as another "you," but, rather, as "Youins." Such as, "Are you-ins going to the movies this afternoon?"

In Australia we also compensate for the paucity of 'normal' English due to its having dropped the old forms for the plural second person pronouns (ye, thee, thy, thine) by inventing our own. We, being the laziest people on the planet (and now apparently officially the fattest) take the path of least effort and simply add 's'. The plural of you is yous. (pronounced as in the plural a female sheep), The same sentence in 'Strine' (Australian) would be something like "Yous garnter the flicks sarvo?"

Last edited by The Pook; 06/24/08 10:33 AM.
#177722 - 06/24/08 10:49 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Go.- It'sRed]  
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 Originally Posted By: Go.- It'sRed


Now, back to that topic starter - the sign that read, "Please Drive Carefully, for our childrens sake. What a mess that is.

Shouldn't it actually read this way? Please drive carefully, for our childrens' sakes.


I beleive this was addressed elsewhere, but the correct version would be Please drive carefully, for our children's sake. Two points here. The plural possessive is an apostrophe after the s if the s is a plural marker and the sake in question is one sake jointly applying to all the children.

 Originally Posted By: Go.- It'sRed
In the hills of Western Pa., which is where my mother was born and raised, the townsfolk would refer to "You" in the plural not as another "you," but, rather, as "Youins." Such as, "Are you-ins going to the movies this afternoon?"


Just another example of the strength of the language, changing to adapt to the potentially ambiguous solecism of using the second person plural pronoun as a singular. That there has been no corresponding change in the language to correct for the change that dropped the nominative form of the second person pronoun, ye, suggests to me that the distinction in form between the nominative and the objective (dative/accusative) is mostly unnecessary.

#177733 - 06/24/08 02:55 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Faldage]  
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Personally I don't think children should be given sake.

#177739 - 06/24/08 06:02 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: The Pook]  
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Personally, I think the genitive, indicating possession, might be OK in Romance Languages. But St. Bernard does not own the church named after him, and it is perpetrating a misuse. I do understand the basilica di san pietro bit, but that is Italian.
Does the apostrophe s mean possesion? Or am I just totally confused?


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177740 - 06/24/08 06:04 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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to continue: why is the 's' or apostrophe s added at all? Is it needed?


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177742 - 06/24/08 06:44 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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I thought that spiritual ownership, as in St. Mary's was implied in those cases where the school or church did not originally belong to the order named for that particular saint.

PS to Jackie I like the new layout, much easier to read on my screen.

#177775 - 06/25/08 02:06 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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Some linguists don't think that the possessive s in English is a genitive case. Whatever you call the feature (in English), the Wikipedia on the genitive (link) has a nice list of the different uses:
 Quote:
  • possession (see Possessive case):
    - inalienable possession ("Janet's height", "Janet's existence", "Janet's long fingers")
    - alienable possession ("Janet's jacket", "Janet's drink")
    - relationship indicated by the noun being modified ("Janet's husband")
  • composition (see Partitive case):
    - substance ("a wheel of cheese")
    - elements ("a group of men")
    - source ("a portion of the food")
  • participation in an action:
    - as an agent ("my leaving") — this is called the subjective genitive
    - as a patient ("the archduke's murder") — this is called the objective genitive
  • origin ("men of Rome")
  • description ("man of honour", "day of reckoning")
  • compounds (Scottish Gaelic "ball coise" = "football", where "coise" = gen. of "cas", "foot")

As far as the naming of churches in English goes, the Saint-Name's seems a well-established usage: e.g., St Paul's Cathedral in London. But this is my favorite punctuational prescript in a long time.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
#177783 - 06/25/08 08:49 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: zmjezhd]  
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The more I see the discussion on it, the more I see how wide-spread it really is, e.g. , St. Peter's, Rome; St. Paul's, London.As for being a favorite punctual pre-script, I am not sure I understand what that means, the discussion has been neat and helpful, but the 's on a Church name bugs the bejiggers out of me.


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177786 - 06/25/08 09:25 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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As for being a favorite punctual pre-script, I am not sure I understand what that means, the discussion has been neat and helpful, but the 's on a Church name bugs the bejiggers out of me.

I understand that. You're in the right place. Everybody who posts on this board is interested in some part of the wonderful world of language and words, and everybody has their personal set of pet peeves on the subject. What I meant to say was that I find your particular pet peeve intriguing and unique, but I don't see any reason for adopting it other than whim. Punctuational meaning 'having to do with punctuation and prescript 'something prescribed' (link) playing on the oft-discussed (on this board and others) divide between prescriptivists and descriptivists, into which latter group I fall. And welcome aboard. I hope you stay and keep posting.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
#177789 - 06/26/08 01:11 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Zed]  
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Churches in the Western Catholic tradition are placed under the patronage (not ownership) of a saint at the time that they are consecrated. To say that this is Saint Etheldreda's Church does not mean that she holds the deed to the real property but rather that she holds the church (building and members) in her heart and in her prayers. The apostrophe is therefor appropriate.

#177796 - 06/26/08 02:50 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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It's a convention. Conventions don't have to be logical or justified. They just are.

#177841 - 06/28/08 06:51 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: The Pook]  
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Patronage, thanks padre, that's what I meant by spiritual ownership.

#177865 - 06/30/08 06:25 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Zed]  
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How re-affirming the comments on apostrophe misuse were today. I have kept a file for years on apostrophe misuse. One of my favorites is a letter to the editor of a Honolulu newspaper including a photo of a sign at a high school that read: VISITOR'S MUST REPORT TO OFFICE. The accompanying editor's note included a misused apostrophe. Hysterical.

#177867 - 06/30/08 06:54 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Hawaii Cat]  
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Hi HC

ummmmm, none of my business but why not Oregon Cat?

#177869 - 06/30/08 07:06 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Zed]  
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Perhaps Hawaii cats have more fun?

#177887 - 07/01/08 08:21 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: The Pook]  
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Only if they can surf without getting wet.

#177903 - 07/02/08 05:56 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Zed]  
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Not to cast aspersions on anyone's beliefs, but St. Ethelreda holds the people in her hearts and prayers? I really wonder.
How does that affect grammar. Seems to be stretching it a bit
Fr. Steve. As the pook says, it must be just a convention, considering how there seems to be no definite answer in any of the conversation on this site regarding it.


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177904 - 07/02/08 06:02 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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I was in the "land hurricane" that hit our city with 116 mph winds last week and lost my power for 5 day. Not a tornado, mind you. I just noticed the nice things that were mentioned by
zmjezhd said. Thank you very much, I'm much appreciative. I have to travel for a few weeks on business, so will be absent for a while, but will be back to this site when I return. I am grateful for the welcome and really enjoy the repartee that has gone on concerning St. Ildelphone's Church, etc.


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177950 - 07/04/08 04:49 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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The apostrophe: It's its own worst enemey (or is that: Its it's own worse enemy?).

#177957 - 07/04/08 07:21 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: David]  
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It's it's its own hmh?..... Jackie? \:D

#177964 - 07/04/08 11:02 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: BranShea]  
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Its its, or it's its, or its it's? Sheeeeeeshe.


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177965 - 07/04/08 11:03 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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Enough already ! ! !


----please, draw me a sheep----
#177974 - 07/05/08 02:43 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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If you wanted to talk about the problem jointly owned by its and it's would you use the word " ...its'... " Or perhaps it's itses? It's its' its and it's wot causes itses confusion.

#204029 - 01/04/12 05:00 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: The Pook]  
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down under
I thought this (apostrophe) was in discussion recently and a quick search in archive gave many threads....this was not the one I was looking to add to....but it will do!

"EAGLE-eyed bargain hunters have rushed to social media sites to lampoon Myer for a grammar clanger in seven-storey-high banners erected across Australia."

Oh the shame!

link to picture

Myers recently reopened after the Christmas break, with a new campaign featuring the slogan, “Early bird get's the right size”.

As you notice... the apostrophe isn't necessary...as did lots of other punctuation enthusiasts across the country.

#204034 - 01/04/12 05:25 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Candy]  
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I don't get' it.

#204037 - 01/04/12 12:51 PM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: LukeJavan8]  
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They left out the apostrophe in "MIS'S".

#204058 - 01/05/12 10:46 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Faldage]  
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oops...you got me Faldo...I went back and had another look at the poster and wondered how I overlooked that blush

#204075 - 01/06/12 11:37 AM Re: the apostrophe as discussed today in wordsmith. [Re: Candy]  
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Candy, I really don't understand how you could miss it - it's so obvious! wink

More seriously, this highlights a problem that so many of my students had - and all my students were mature ones - average age about 50!
As a guide I would tell them that, if you could substitute "his" for "its" without losing the meaning (whatever it did to the accuracy) of the statement, then it was possesive and did not need an apostrophe. If you could equally use "it is" for "its" then it was a contraction and therefore did need one.
I, quite sensibly, didn't go into metalinguistics to examine the possible use of "its" as a plural form!
(E.g, How many "its" appear in the following sentence? "It doesn't matter if it hits it or misses it.") [ans = 4]


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