The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dear English Teachers: You’re Welcome

Posted on | May 3, 2013 | 58 Comments

What’s wrong with this headline?

Jason Collins’ Other Hidden Secret

Everybody was beating up on Howard Kurtz for the factual error of his story, but the headline was also ungrammatical. The possessive form of a proper name ending in “s” — e.g., Jones — requires the apostrophe-S: The pistol was found in Jones’s car. And, while we’re picking at nits, the plural in that case would be “Joneses.”

English grammar is extraordinarily complicated, and few of us are always right, but somewhere I hope my seventh-grade English teacher Mrs. Clark is smiling to think I remembered that rule. Now, if we could only persuade Justin Bieber to teach his fans subjunctive . . .

ADDENDUM: The past tense of “plead” is pleaded. I don’t give a damn how many times you’ve seen it or heard it as “pled,” that’s just wrong.


58 Responses to “Dear English Teachers: You’re Welcome”

  1. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    Besides, nobody pronounces Worcestershire correctly. But by gum, you’d better spell it rite.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    May 5th, 2013 @ 1:12 am

    Me speak COBOL – many moons.

  3. Bob Belvedere
    May 5th, 2013 @ 1:14 am

    I miss those fun days.

  4. Bob Belvedere
    May 5th, 2013 @ 1:15 am

    Shearly you jest?

  5. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2013 @ 1:54 am

    Wrong mixer

  6. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2013 @ 3:40 am

    I took a class in it, but never had to use it at work.

    Hated it.

    (But then, I’ve hated worse since.)

    I don’t use very many web-development favorites as programming tools today (Python, Ruby-on-whatever, etc). Just most of all the other ones.


  7. The Other Jeff S.
    May 5th, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

    I dunno, Stacy. I remember my 12th grade English teacher doing a refresher on this. He used the one-syllable rule. If the name ending in ‘s’ was one syllable, he’d add apostrophe-s. If it was more than one syllable ending in ‘s’, he’d just add the apostrophe.
    Mr. Ross’s car.
    Mr. Collins’ car.
    Don’t know if it’s right, but it’s what he taught. And he was damn cool…

  8. SmallishBees
    May 10th, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    Chicago Manual (unless it’s been changed in the recent version, but I can’t be bothered to look it up) would have you say, Jones’s (ess, apostrophe, ess). Unless you are Moses or Jesus, in which case you get the ess-apostrophe treatment. Jason Collins, not being Moses or Jesus, would fall under the rule that applies to the rest of us. That is, if you care what Chicago says, which many people do not. The fools.