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Topic review (newest first)

2012-10-28 04:22:14

Hi everwon!

The puzzle mentioned in post #20.  I mist it two.  Did it halve some thin too do with:

"Residents refused refusing refuse because they didn't want to phicks the balm with reused stough."

I love the English language.  It's so phul of  posibilities for mispelling, misspronunciation,
missunderstanding, werdpley, etc.

Makes it really nice for puny punsters eke, ewe no!

Phortunately math has phar phewer foneems phor  phowling pholks phreequintly.  The fisherman
was doling in roe and rolling in dough at the same time.   Wo woe wough whoa!!!!  Enuff!

Sorry!  Just couldn't help myself!  smile

2012-05-22 03:04:36

anonimnystefy wrote:

I don't think you got what I meNt,but it doesn't matter.

I think my second paragraph - which I should have put first - catches your meaning, and the rest explains my previous post.

Btw,what would you write "Bayes' theorem" or "Bayes's theorem"?

The former, pronounced as a single-syllabled word...because, as Bob said, it sounds right.

The 'sounds right' 'rule' isn't terribly helpful for many people, of course: eg, those for whom English isn't their first language, those who had a hopeless English teacher and Gen Xers.

The start of all this was my use of 's in "Preposterous's". If you said (verbally), "Preposterous' Conclusions", with only four syllables for "Preposterous' " instead of five, that phrase would be heard as "preposterous conclusions". You'll have changed the proper noun into an adjective and then have further explaining to do to get your intended meaning across...because you'll want to extricate yourself from the awkward position you've put yourself into, particularly if you were talking to the great Preposterous himself! smile

The way I wrote it sounds right in present-day lingo, and that is my governing rule. If I'm in doubt I turn to style guides and other sources.

There is no governing body that lays down the law in these matters, and opinions on many aspects of grammar differ.

Here is an informative blog discussing the different treatment of the apostrophe by The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style.

Also, from CMOS:

7.17   Most nouns
The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns (except for a few irregular plurals that do not end in s) by adding an apostrophe only. This practice, used in conjunction with the exceptions and options outlined in 7.19–22, reflects the way possessive forms are generally pronounced and is largely faithful to Strunk and White’s famous rule 1 (“Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ’s”). Since feelings on these matters sometimes run high, users of this manual may wish to modify or add to the exceptions.

7.18   Proper nouns, letters, and numbers 
The general rule covers most proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z, in both their singular and plural forms, as well as letters and numbers.

Note the sheer volume of open-ended terms, such as: "most", "except for a few", "practice", "exceptions", "options", "reflects", "generally", "largely faithful"...and especially "Since feelings on these matters sometimes run high, users of this manual may wish to modify or add to the exceptions."

Back to Thomas Bayes. "Bayes' Theorem" sounds right (to me) but not "James' Theorem". "James's Theorem", with the extra 'es' syllable, does.

Maybe it's to do with the soft 'y' vs the hard 'm'. Just a thought...I've seen nothing about that.

2012-05-22 01:39:17

It was to phro,just to provide a counter-example,but OK.

And yeah,I do that too sometimes. Especially when I want to figure out which tense to use. And with the articles of course.

bob bundy
2012-05-22 01:27:49

Bayes' ... definitely.

I realise that I decide by what 'sounds' right rather than trying to follow a set of rules.  I think the rules are buried deep in my head and seem to work by listening to what I'm saying to myself.

So, for example, Davis's sounds right but not Bayes's.  Weird isn't it?


2012-05-22 01:15:16

I don't think you got what I meNt,but it doesn't matter.

Btw,what would you write "Bayes' theorem" or "Bayes's theorem"?

2012-05-18 02:31:38

As there is only one instance of the error, no pattern that I can follow accurately is established. The sign-writer erred - this we know - but we don't know if the error is consistent, erratic or otherwise. I opted for erratic, which just so happens to then allow me to add some extra flavour to my post.

"sign-writers" is the contraction of "sign-writer has", but is missing the apostrophe. In that sentence I omitted apostrophes that should have been included, and those that are there are in the wrong place.

My comment linking the sign-writer to greengrocers, who are notorious for their misuse of the apostrophe in their advertising - hence the term 'greengrocer's apostrophe' - is only supposition.

2012-05-18 01:20:39

If you want to continue in the same fashion then *sign-writer's. smile

2012-05-18 00:59:03

Hi Bob,

Sorry I didn't answer your post #20 earlier. Nice answer! smile

You're correct, of course - with both placements of the apostrophe.

Nice sign, btw...the sign-writers obviously spent hour's learning his trade from greengrocer's. I wonder how he sign's his name, and what the signs font's are?

2012-05-17 22:07:35

Hi Bob

The problem we have is wheter "Davis's" is correct or not.

I found the wiki article on the Saxon genitive. It says that the »'s« is the contraction of as and es from the old Saxon English,which were added to express genitive. That also removes the confusion on wheter you should use as and es,I guess.

bob bundy
2012-05-17 17:17:26


If you want to appear to have mastered the English language, then you should probably do as the English do and get it wrong for much of the time.

I think the possessive apostrophe also indicates something has been left out.

The phrase "The cat's whiskers" is a contraction of "The whiskers of the cat"; the underlined being contracted to ' and the word order changed too.

That makes sense of the practice of not putting a ' on "whose" because that word is already a possessive so nothing is being omitted.

The only exception that I am aware of is for the word(s) its.

"Its" could be a contraction of "it is".  It could also be a possessive as in "The dog was sleeping, its tail in the air"

To eliminate confusion a special rule applies here.  No ' is used for the latter.  That's amazingly rare in English!  Actually having a rule to eliminate confusion.  The English are so pleased with this that they try hard to get it right on this occasion.


2012-05-17 08:06:50

All grammar style guides agree on this point, that rules regarding the use of the apostrophe differ between proper nouns, common nouns, pronouns...and more.

Please read the article to which I gave you the link in my previous post. That may clarify your thinking better than I can manage to do, with my limited knowledge.

2012-05-17 07:52:56

I see no reason for rules to be applied differently to proper nouns.

2012-05-17 07:13:38

Hi stefy,

That article is about a common noun, not proper nouns that we're discussing. The rules are different.

The OP is right in thinking that the s in guys should be followed by an apostrophe only.

I suggest you read this article. It's quite a comprehensive summary about the apostrophe, citing many well-respected sources that you could check out for further information.

2012-05-17 06:52:28

2012-05-17 06:24:02

Hi stefy,

anonimnystefy wrote:

Oh,no you don't,phro! I still do not agree. Firsg,I would like to ask you why there is the counter-example of Jesus'.

From Wikipedia (the internet bible):

Classical, biblical, and similar names ending in a sibilant, especially if they are polysyllabic, do not take an added s in the possessive; among sources giving exceptions of this kind are The Times and The Elements of Style, which make general stipulations, and Vanderbilt University, which mentions only Moses and Jesus. As a particular case, Jesus'  is very commonly written instead of Jesus's – even by people who would otherwise add 's in, for example, James's or Chris's. Jesus'  is referred to as "an accepted liturgical archaism" in Hart's Rules.

Fowler's Modern English Usage:

In verse, and in poetic or reverential contexts......the number of syllables is the same as in the subjective case, eg, Achilles' has three, not four syllables, Jesus' two, not three.
But elsewhere we now usually add the s and the syllable - always when the word is monosyllabic, and preferably when it is longer.

anonimnystefy wrote:

Second,please show me the pronunciation of Davis's.

"Davises" (see quote from Fowler's above).

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