Archive for June 24th, 2009

Say what?

We did a little research on apostrophe use in Mother’s Day and Father’s Day messages floating around cyberspace and …

Mom’s win!

By far, there were more mistake’s for Mother’s than there were foul up’s for Father’s … (of course, our apostrophe abuse is intentional here).

We thought you might get a chuckle at some of our findings, so, here you go:

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mom’s!
  • … wishing all the Mommy’s I know a Happy Mothers Day!! (this one could have just moved the mark to Mothers)
  • We have to celebrate our mama’s by the way…
  • … can’t wait to have dinner at moms house. (now, this one needs an apostrophe)

Therefore, today’s punctuation concentration is on avoiding that embarassing apostrophe catastrophe 

To start, let’s define this little character:

apostrophe. noun. a mark of punctuation ( )used to indicate possessive case or omission of one or more letter(s) from a word.

You may see some sources state that the apostrophe is also used for indicating plurals of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols. We heartily disagree with this usage — we feel that this practice is outdated.

We do like Grammar Book’s baker’s dozen of Rules for Apostrophes, so we’ll refer you to their site for the full details and just give you a summary here, with one addition from us:

Our Apostrophe Rule:

0. Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural. This goes for words, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms. * (This is related to Rules 5. – names, and 11. – CAPS & numbers used as nouns, below, but more encompassing.)

* Here are examples of misuse according to our rule:

CD-s and DVD-s



Grammar Book’s Apostrophe Rules:

  1. Use the apostrophe with contractions.
  2. Use the apostrophe to show possession.
  3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
  4. Use the apostrophe to show plural possession.
  5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name. * (We have some people in mind who need to learn this rule!)
  6. Use the apostrophe with a singular compound noun, to show possession.
  7. Use the apostrophe with a plural compound noun, to show possession.
  8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
  9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose.
  10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it’s is when it is a contraction for it is or it has. (Remember, “its” is a possessive pronoun – no apostrophe.) See photo below.
  11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes. *
  12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
  13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form of that pronoun. (Refer to Rule 9. re: pronouns.)

Speaking of rules … we like this … from Trevor Coultart:


Should be its.

 Sources: GrammarBook.com, Flickr

Tweet Me from https://grammarcops.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

A reader writes:

“Using ensure and assure interchangeably bothers me.”


Maybe using assure upsets the stomach?

Seriously, though, it bothers us, too. Plus, there’s the related word insure. So, let’s explore …

Many thesauri list these as synonyms for each other, so that helps to confuse us further … In general, to assure is to lend confidence, to ensure is to confirm, and to insure is to indemnify (as with an insurance policy) – and insure may have legal implications.

As per the AP Stylebook: Use ensure to mean guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his life.

Another source adds: Assure most commonly means “to remove doubt about, to guarantee, to set one’s mind at rest.” It is a verbal statement of certainty.

YourDictionary.com presents helpful tips:

To help you remember when to use each word, keep the following three hints in mind:

  1. You assure a person.
  2. You insure your car.
  3. You ensure everything else.

assure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to declare earnestly to; inform or tell positively; state with confidence to: She assured us that everything would turn out all right. 
  • to cause to know surely; reassure: He assured himself that no one was left on the bus. 
  • to pledge or promise; give surety of; guarantee: He was assured a job in the spring. 
  • to make (a future event) sure: This contract assures the company’s profit this month. 
  • to secure; render safe or stable: to assure a person’s position. 
  • to give confidence to; encourage.
  • Chiefly British. to insure, as against loss.

ensure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to secure or guarantee: This letter will ensure you a hearing. 
  • to make sure or certain: measures to ensure the success of an undertaking. 
  • to make secure or safe, as from harm.

insure. verb (used with object)

  • to guarantee against loss or harm.
  • to secure indemnity to or on, in case of loss, damage, or death.
  • to issue or procure an insurance policy on or for.
  • see ensure (defs. 1–3). 

insure. verb (used without object)

  • to issue or procure an insurance policy.

Sources: dictionary.com, e Learn English language, APStylebook, YourDictionary.com

Tweet Me from https://grammarcops.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

We saw an interesting headline today on People.com:

“Can Chris Brown Make a Rebound?”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

chris brown rebound

What does rebound mean to you? Here’s our word of the day …

rebound. verb (used without object)

  • to bound or spring back from force of impact.
  • to recover, as from ill health or discouragement.
  • Basketball. to gain hold of rebounds: a forward who rebounds well off the offensive board. 

rebound. verb (used with object)

  • to cause to bound back; cast back.
  • Basketball. to gain hold of (a rebound): The guard rebounded the ball in backcourt. 

rebound. noun

  • the act of rebounding; recoil.
  • Basketball.  a.  a ball that bounces off the backboard or the rim of the basket. b. an instance of gaining hold of such a ball.
  • Ice Hockey. a puck that bounces off the gear or person of a goalkeeper attempting to make a save.

rebound. Idiom

  • on the rebound, a. after bouncing off the ground, a wall, etc.: He hit the ball on the rebound.  b. after being rejected by another: She didn’t really love him; she married him on the rebound. 

Source: dictionary.com

Tweet Me from https://grammarcops.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »