Apostrophe catastrophe

The editors at Yahoo News have gone apostrophe-happy. Maybe they think an apostrophe is needed after every plural noun:

Why they would add an apostrophe to veterans is a mystery to me, especially since the name of the facility is Veterans Home of California (sans apostrophe). But adding an unnecessary apostrophe to what looks like a possessive is a common mistake at Yahoo. A mistake that can be avoided by following this advice from the Associated Press Stylebook:

Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive
sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.

Memory Aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer
form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters.

So, in the case of that headline, it’s a home for veterans and therefore, a veterans home.

Even more mystifying is the apostrophe in months. I imagine the editors thought it was like the quasi possessives one year’s salary, two weeks’ notice, or seven years’ experience. It is not. Quasi possessive expressions involve measurement (such as a length of time or amount of money) and a noun. The expression 7 months pregnant includes a length of time and an adjective and there’s just no possessin’ an adjective.

(If you’re trying to figure out if you’re faced with a quasi possessive requiring an apostrophe, take a look at my memory aid here.)

 

 

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2 Responses to “Apostrophe catastrophe”

  1. Archon's Den Says:

    Sadly, it’s becoming quite common. I spotted several simple plurals with apostrophes while surfing around tonight. 😦 😯

    • Laura Says:

      It’s a very common error, but it’s particularly disheartening to see it in text that has (supposedly) been edited by a professional.


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