Sunday, 31 July 2011

Apostrophes - the cottage sign error

As I drive through cottage country, I notice signs announcing the proud owners of the rustic dwellings at the ends of the driveways: The Smith's, The Sawchuk's, The Campbell's. The apostrophe indicates possession, and the object possessed, the cottage, is understood. What the sign means is: here is the Smith's cabin! But is there only one Smith, and does he style himself, The Smith?

Presumably, these cottages belong to the families - the Smiths, the Sawchuks, and the Campbells; and so the apostrophe should be placed after the "s" to indicate plural possession, as in The Smiths', The Sawchuks', and The Campbells'

I have noticed that on these signs only rarely is the apostrophe in the right place. See for yourself next time you're in cottage country.

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