RE: Unprofessional possessive

Subject: RE: Unprofessional possessive
From: Hal Wrobel <hwrobel -at- toptier -dot- com>
To: "'McClare, Scott'" <smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 22:27:38 -0800

Good day everyone,

Avoiding the possessive form in technical writing has been recommended in
recent years particularly where internationalization and translation issues
are involved. English is the only language that uses the apostrophe + "s" to
express possession and internationalization issues are almost everywhere in
hi-tech these days.
I find I'm able to avoid this form of the possessive without loss of
clarity, perhaps even with added clarity.

Hal Wrobel
TopTier Israel

> A question has come up concerning the use of the possessive in
> reports. The author maintains that it's unprofessional to use the
> possessive. So instead of writing "the pilot's head" we should
write "the
> pilot head". The second sounds like pidgin to me. (Me take
> pilot head and bash with rock.)
> Me hope for you comments.

This nonsense. 8-)

There's nothing wrong with the possessive in technical writing. It
indicates ownership or other similar close relationships; that's
what it's
for. Your author has turned the noun "pilot" into an adjective and
therefore changed the relationship between the pilot and the head.
like the difference between "the blue sky," which describes the sky
as blue,
and "the blue's sky," which means nothing.

It might be argued that it's preferable to use "the head of the
rather than "the pilot's head," but that's just a change in wording,
not a
change in case.

Take care,

Scott A. McClare - Technical Writer
Neptec Design Group Ltd., Kanata, Ontario, Canada
(613) 599-7603 x504
smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com

Sponsored by Weisner Associates Inc., Online Information Services
Training & consulting for RoboHELP, Dreamweaver, HTML, and
HTML-Based Help.
More info at or
mailto:training -at- weisner -dot- com -dot-

Sponsored by ForeignExchange (
Rely on ForeignExchange for responsive and professional
software localization and technical translation services.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: hwrobel -at- toptier -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to
leave-techwr-l-20504H -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: he/she
Next by Author: RE: Are these words being used?
Previous by Thread: RE: Unprofessional possessive
Next by Thread: RE: Unprofessional possessive

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads

Sponsored Ads