Re: Apostrophe question

Subject: Re: Apostrophe question
From: Stan Brown <stbrown -at- NACS -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995 23:00:18 -0500

In TECHWR-L, Bev Parks <bparks -at- HUACHUCA-EMH1 -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL> wrote:

>I was about to sign a greeting card this morning, and I wanted to write:
> The Parks
> George, Beverly, and Molly
>But then I realized I didn't know how to pluralize Parks (and all my
>good books are at work). So instead, I wrote
> George, Beverly, and Molly Parks
>I had a gnawing suspicion that the answer was The Parkses, and I don't
>like the look of that AT ALL.

Two comments: First, that "gnawing suspicion" is indeed correct.
Second, the way Bev _actually_ wrote it seems to me to flow better.

The lesson here is one that often gets lost: Often a particular
phrasing can only be made correct by being made ugly. In addition, as
with possessive puzzles, there may be significant disagreement even
among educated persons about which usage is correct. It may be better
to rearrange things a bit and thus avoid the problem, as Bev did in her
greeting card.

I would never write "The Library of Congress's history" -- with or
without the s after the apostrophe -- when "The history of the Library
of Congress" is available. The benefit is that _no_ reader will wonder
at the second form, where some will wonder at the first form either with
or without the s.

>What *is* the answer? Parks' perhaps, in which case the apostrophe is
>not used to indicate possession.

Well, no. I can't think of a single example where an apostrophe is
correctly used in a simple plural. Barring the small group of common
exceptions like mice, sheep, and so on, I believe all English plurals
are formed by adding s or es. Certainly plurals of proper names are
thus formed.

Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems Cleveland, Ohio USA stbrown -at- nacs -dot- net

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