It’s not unusual to see a completely erroneous apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its. What is unusual is a missing apostrophe in the contraction it’s. But it’s not so unusual on Yahoo Finance:
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.)
When I read this on the front page of Yahoo Finance, I attributed the inconsistent spelling of the February holiday to carelessness:
But it could just be the result of laziness: The editors at Yahoo didn’t bother to refer to any authorities on how to spell the holiday. But they weren’t so lazy that they couldn’t come up with yet another place to stick an apostrophe:
So, is it Presidents’ Day, Presidents Day, or President’s Day? According to the federal government, the correct name is Washington’s Birthday. But there is no universal agreement on whether to include an apostrophe in Presidents Day. The only universal agreement: Be consistent.
If I had a nickel for every error on Yahoo, I’d have hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of coins. Missing apostrophes, like those on Yahoo Finance, would contribute to my stash:
Sometimes a word ending in S looks like a plural, but it’s really a quasi possessive. This is a case of a quasi possessive. (It’s also an example of the genitive case, which is more grammar than I like.) If you’re unsure whether you’re faced with a simple plural or a quasi possessive, try this: Substitute the number 1 for the number in the phrase. So, instead of “millions of dollars worth,” try “one dollars worth.” Notice that I used dollars, and not dollar, because that sounds right to me. But of course it’s not a plural, so it must be a possessive: one dollar’s worth. This method depends on having an “ear” for correct language, something Yahoo writers seem to lack.
It must have been a stressful weekend over at the editor’s desk at yahoo.com. Maybe that’s why the editors missed the missing apostrophe here:
Or failed to recognize that schoolyard is one word:
Someone should demand to know why a typo like this slipped through the spell-checker:
(Oh, yeah. I forgot. Yahoo editors don’t use spell-checkers. Or proofreaders.)
No spell-checker would have caught this perfectly spelled bit of nonsense:
I have no idea what that was supposed to be. Can anyone translate it for me?
My previous blog post noted a missing apostrophe on the front page of Yahoo News. I think I’ve found it. It turned up in a headline on Yahoo Lifestyle:
The apostrophe simply doesn’t belong there. When faced with a similar situation — a length of time preceding an adjective — don’t include the apostrophe. (But if the time period modifies a noun, it gets an apostrophe: one day’s pay, ten years’ experience.
If that’s too grammar-geeky a rule for you, try this: Replace the length of time with the singular: one month pregnant sounds right; one month’s pregnant doesn’t. So, no apostrophe in the plural. Of course this method requires that you have an “ear” for correct English.