You got people’s attention

The writer over at Yahoo! Style got my attention with this attempt to form a possessive:

She may have gotten other people’s attention, too. At least the attention of those who know that people is a plural noun and you form the possessive of a plural noun not ending in S with an apostrophe followed by an S: Like women’s, children’s, men’s, and people’s.

Confused about plural possessives?

Nobody knew that forming a plural possessive was so complicated! Nobody! OK, so maybe everybody knew it was pretty simple except the folks at Yahoo! Style, who seem to be confused:

I know that you know that the plural of Kardashian is Kardashians and possessive of the plural Kardashians is Kardashians‘.

It’s not editors’ rules

There are rules to writing that we all try to follow so that we communicate clearly and so that we don’t look like idiots to our readers. These are not editors’ rules; they are language rules. And there’s one that’s just been broken on Yahoo! Style:

The plural of parent is parents; the possessive of parents is parents’. I think that means that parents’s is the singular possessive of the plural parents. Or maybe it just means the writer has no idea what she’s doing.

Hedging her bets

Not sure how to form the possessive of kids? Not sure if the apostrophe goes before or after the S? Do what the writer for Yahoo! Style did and hedge your bets: Put the apostrophe before and after it:

What if there were triplets?

If the possessive of single is single’s, and the possessive of twins is twins’s (at least according to Yahoo! Style), is the  possessive of triplet, triplets’s’s?

You have no idea what to do with it, do you?

The Yahoo! Beauty writer responsible for this has no idea when to use an apostrophe:

Here’s a hint, don’t use it in a plural noun and put it in a possessive noun. Now ask a colleague to explain what a noun is.

Editor’s worst punctuation moment

A Yahoo! Style editor’s worst punctuation moment may have come when he or she omitted a teensy apostrophe in what should be a possessive:


Ladies first

I guess elementary schools don’t teach the same things nowadays that they did when I was a youngster. Of course, that was many, many decades ago, but I thought there were some subjects that were eternal. Like how to form the plural of nouns. Judging from this excerpt from Yahoo! Style, schools are neglecting that bit of knowledge — or the writer was playing hooky that day:


The possessive plural of lady is ladies’. It follows a simple rule: Form the plural of the noun and if it ends in S, add an apostrophe. So, it’s idiots’ and dummies’. If the plural doesn’t end in S, add an apostrophe and S: So women’s, children’s, and alumni’s are correct.

Let’s run through that again

Let’s run through this one more time for the folks at Yahoo! Style: If you’re unsure of the spelling of a word, consult a dictionary. If a word looks funny (like, oh, say, maybe throughs), consult a dictionary:


If the writer had done that, she might have seen that run-throughs is a noun requiring a hyphen. Just in case incidents like this happen to arise, editors can cut them out and replace them with the correct word. Editors can also be sure pronouns (like them, not it) match their antecedents (which in this case is incidents).

Readers’ confusion

The writer of this article on Yahoo! Style is obviously confused. Very confused:


Maybe she didn’t know if there was one voter’s ensembles or many voters’ ensembles, so she mashed them together and created voters’s ensembles. And readers’ confusion.


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