Friday, 9 May 2008
Last week I asked a question: how should those silly folks in the Apprentice have punctuated their card? National Single's Day, National Singles' Day or National Singles Day?
We had quite a few responses in line with my first reaction, such as this one from Andrew.
Singles', because it's both possessive and plural. I don't see why this is hard!
So it's easy. Or is it? I remembered some confusion similar to this during the writers strike (note the lack of apostrophe). I did see one paper refer to it as the "writers' strike" but most took the view that the act was a strike and the word "writers" described who was striking. We all know that a word describing a noun is an adjective and adjectives are not possessive. No apostrophe.
Grammar Girl (whose website is now my primary reference for a sensible and informed opinion on all grammar matters) has this to say.
I believe it's pretty clear that the writers don't own the strike, and that the word writers is there to tell us more about what kind of strike it is. So I'd leave out the apostrophe.
On the other hand, I'd include the apostrophe in homeowners' association, at least when the homeowners actually own or control the association that manages their property.
So the question is, does the day belong to the singles or not?
My view is that National Singles Day is a day to celebrate singles, such as Pancake Day is a day to celebrate the pancake. So no apostrophe is required.
There are many examples of possessed days; These are usually singular: Valentine's day, St. George's day, Mother's day (contentious I know, but you've only got one Mum). There are also examples, as pointed out by Binary Tales, of plurals owning a day. These include National Parks' Week World Teachers' Day and International Women's Day.
The point here is that the contestants in the apprentice were inventing a new occasion. So they can call it what they choose; National Singles' Day is acceptable. However I prefer National Singles Day, especially in the context of a greetings card, for both logical and aesthetic reasons.
Subscribe and Share
- 1000 Tiny Things I Hate
- AA Gill's Times Column
- Apostrophe Abuse
- Stephen Fry's blog
- The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks
- Mighty Red Pen
- lowercase L
- Literally a web log
- Elisabeth Writes
- Never in all my life
- The Engine Room
- I Love Typography
- spEak You’re bRanes
- Passive Aggressive Notes