A couple of S’s?

It’s become almost a daily occurrence at Yahoo! Style: the inability to form possessive of a plural noun:

What the heck is so hard about this? If you’re writing about one couple, it’s couple’s. If more than one couple, it’s couples’. If you’re really confused, it’s couples’s and it’s wrong.

While I’m pondering the reason for that common mistake, perhaps you’ll solve another mystery for me: Why did the writer (and presumably her editor) refer to a boy with the pronoun her? Is this a transgender thing?

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Not to be confused with imaginary bodies

I’m not surprised anymore when I see that writers for Yahoo! Style have no idea how to make a possessive out of a plural noun. It happens nearly every day:

So, the writer and editor didn’t know that athletes’s makes no sense (they should have written athletes’). What surprises me is the fact that they thought they needed to make it clear that it was physical bodies, and not imaginary bodies, that are the focus of “microagressions” (they should have written microaggressions).

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:

beyonces-sty-hp

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:

ladies-room-sty

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.

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