Thursday, 1 May 2008

Single's, Singles' or Singles?

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A clip from last night's Apprentice in which the contestants debate the placement of an apostrophe for about 3 hours.

Should it be "National Single's Day", "National Singles' Day" or "National Singles Day"?

After consulting a couple of style guides I think I know the answer but I'll open it up to you guys to discuss first.

So what do you think?

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Anonymous Andrew said...

In the words of my esteemed wife, "Singles' Night, because it's both possessive and plural. I don't see why this is hard!"

1 May 2008 at 10:32  
Anonymous ade said...

I thought that either singles or singles’ would be valid, depending on whether the intended meaning is that it’s possessive (belonging to single people), or whether singles is just a label for the event.

1 May 2008 at 11:20  
Blogger Mantolwen said...

First, more than one single. Second, the day belongs to the single people. So it's National Singles' Day. They got it right... just.

1 May 2008 at 11:56  
Blogger Dan said...

There were some excellent moments last night: a "150%", several "me personallys", typeface-chat and a wrongful "literally".

In fact, it was so good I sent a text to my friend Gez, 26, about it. He then ignored the text and stole the idea for a blog entry instead.

1 May 2008 at 15:21  
Blogger Gez said...

Get you! I credited you in a tweet here.

1 May 2008 at 15:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments in that it depends on whether or not they intended the day to belong to single people or not.

Looking at this rather excellent resource for a president I find several.

International Firefighters' Day

Volunteers' Week

National Parks' Week

World Teachers' Day

And these. Note that while the apostrophe is before the 's' the words are in plural form and thus they are plural possessive.

International Women's Day

Children's Day

Orangemen's Day

Thus, It should be Singles' - plural possessive.

1 May 2008 at 15:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to post the link:

1 May 2008 at 15:57  
Blogger motownmutt said...

I agree with the plural possessive comments above: Singles' Day.


1 May 2008 at 16:14  
Blogger Gez said...

Binary Tales,

With much affection, did you mean you were looking for a precedent? If you were looking for a president, I suppose that's as good a place as any.

1 May 2008 at 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for the fact that I don't have to show my face in the first place and wouldn't be able to show my face, I pick others up on this all the time.

Yes that is what I meant, I was up late last night and despite it being 4 in the afternoon have just recently got up. It was a Freudian slip maybe. That's my excuse.

1 May 2008 at 16:35  
Blogger Hillary Dickman said...

I agree with Andrew...why is this difficult? It doesn't seem like a question that merits debate on national television. I haven't consulted my style guides, but my knee-jerk reaction is "singles'" because it's plural and possessive. I hope we're right or I'm going to feel pretty dumb.

To me, apostrophes usually seem like common sense (except maybe the first time you think about its vs. it's). So, why do so many people screw them up?

2 May 2008 at 20:10  
Blogger JD said...

Just to add to the debate, it's worth noting that the Oxford English Dictionary gives 'Mother's Day' – singular, possessive. In other words, it's 'the day of the mother'. Following that model, it really should be 'Single's Day' – 'the day of the single [person]'. I don't particularly agree with this though.

I ran a poll on my own blog and National Singles Day was the most popular option, followed by National Singles' Day. National Single's Day received just the one vote, and National Single Day received none at all.

7 May 2008 at 17:23  
Blogger Daddy Papersurfer said...

I suppose National "Oh dear, I'm all alone day" Day wouldn't work? Oh well.

8 May 2008 at 19:22  
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