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Heavens to Euripedes

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Wednesday, 04 January 2006

Occasionally Chuck will ask me to proof some of the work that he and his partners produce.  Most recently was a newsletter they’re printing for one of their Clients.  The Client had supplied the copy, so I didn’t want to be too picky, but I did find a couple of nits that I couldn’t let hang unpicked.  And, since I’ve had my head buried in grammar books lately – my nitpicker is well honed.

One of those little beggars concerned the use of apostrophes.  I had Chuck on the phone and started to explain why the newsletter should be corrected: 

“When indicating possessives, the singular noun ends in <i>‘s</i>, even if the person’s name ends in ‘s.’  For example, if Charles has a book it is ‘Charles’s book’.”

“But I thought that if a name ended in “s” it was okay to stick the apostrophe at the end of the name,” Chuck challenged.

“Well,” I dug out my newly purchased (with the Barnes and Noble gift certificates Chuck got me for Christmas) copy of Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman, “According to my book,” page 196-7 to be exact, “both ways are accepted, but I'm giving you proper convention and you should not go against convention without a darned good reason for doing so.”

“The Client wrote it.”

“That’s a darn good reason.  But here’s what the book says, there are only a few cases where convention dictates that the possessive s must be dropped, such as, Achilles’ heel, Euripides’ plays…”

“Euripides’ plays?”  He interrupts.

“Yes, Euripides’ plays!”

“Well, You rippa deez plays I’m a gonna busta you face!”  Chuck can’t control his laughter; he’s so tickled by his own wit.

And that’s as far as we got on that grammar lesson.

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