Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We Don't Need No Eggucation

Remember the movie Runaway Bride starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? That’s okay; I mostly don’t either. There’s just one part that stuck with me:  Richard Gere pointed out that in every relationship Julia is in she orders the same egg dish as her boyfriend. I think that stuck with me because I had a friend who did the same thing but with beer. 

Most of us have to change a little when we get into a relationship—it’s what they call compromise—but some people really change when, as we say in the grammar industry, they go from singular to plural. 

Some words do too. When most words change from singular to plural, they simply accumulate an s (e.g., egg becomes eggs). But some words change in more dramatic ways. When man and woman become plural, they exchange their a’s for e’s; and when child becomes plural, it goes crazy and slaps on ren. 

And it’s cool; I’m not judging. Sometimes it’s good to make drastic changes. Maybe Julia never would have tried poached eggs and then realized she loved them, which is great because they are so much healthier than fried. 

So why do I bring this up?

Because I saw this the other day:

Most of the time, we place the apostrophe outside the s when we are showing plural possession. For example:

She always copies her boyfriends’ egg orders.

Because the apostrophe is outside the s, it’s clear to the reader that we are referring to the egg orders of more than one of her boyfriends, as opposed to:

She always copies her boyfriend’s egg orders.

Because the apostrophe is before the s, it shows the reader that we are talking about the egg orders of only one boyfriend.

So what’s the problem with placing the apostrophe after the s in children, you might ask. It’s plural after all.

Well, here’s the thing: The word children is only plural. We can never say there is one children. Well, it’s a free country; we can say it, but we’d be grammatically incorrect. There’s no reason to place the apostrophe after the s; we already know we are talking about more than one child. Therefore, the correct way to express it is “Children’s Education Rooms.”

Although, now I am totally freaked out about what kind of education these children are getting!


Shelly said...

People who remain unsure about where to place the apostrophe in Children's Education Rooms could just call them classrooms and eliminate any chance of embarrassment.

Great post~

theater-goer said...

How do you keep from screaming? Mens' clothing. Womens' underwear. This sort of thing should be as scarce as geeses' teeths.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Great post! If I have one achilles heel in English it is my apostrophe s!

the late phoenix said...

when i first heard that children's choir in The Wall, it was scary and eerie. now as an adult, i understand Floyd more, i am part of The Wall, or i'm digging myself out of The Wall, or i'm trapped in a Wall of my own building or something, i hear the childrens again...uh, children again

Leah said...

BHi there, I'm new to your blog and must say it's a great discovery.

I shall be watching out for my grammar lessons from now on :-)

Genskie said...

I am glad I never forget the grammar rules on apostrophe. It's amazing how a simple period or apostrophe totally change the meaning of a sentence.

Sara said...

LOL. Now I'm wondering what kind of education they're getting, these childrens'. ;)

Nianque said...

Great post. There doesn't seem to be a spelling or grammar checker that knows this as it is always shown as a mistake when written as "children's."

♥●• İzdihër •●♥ said...


Nice post :).

Jono said...

That's why I refer to them as kids. "Anyways" with or without an apostrophe drives me nuts (nut's).

Carol Kilgore said...

Exactly so about the type of education the kids will receive in those rooms!

Happy Weekend :)

anthony stemke said...

You have touched on an important point. Remember Gresham's law? That is why we must always be alert and fight on.
I'm at this thrift store the other dsy and almost get into a fight (not really) about a rack of clothes outside the front door that says: "All items on this rack $1.00" So I show a dollar bill and say I'll take the rack. She says No, they be $1.00 each. I say no no, that ain't what the sign says. So you see what I mean.
But wait, you talking apostrophes, bad analogy. Sorry.

Jo Antareau said...

What a shame there's only one of you, Missed. Those children's education rooms need a good dose of educators who can actually, yanno, educate!

Jemi Fraser said...

*sigh* I hate seeing signs like that - makes me grind my teeth!

Beverly Diehl said...

This post reminded me of a place around the corner from where my crit group meets: the Broken Egg Cafe - which is, apparently, one of a chain.

However, I am not the only person bugged by its banner: http://www.sonicoverlook.com/2011/10/12/its-the-little-things/

I think it was back in middle school when I got a question wrong on a test as to when one uses "its" and when one uses "it's" and I have never goofed up THAT bit of punctuation since (though I've certainly mauled others).

Just seems like, IF you are going to create a permanent banner for public display, you just might want to have someone check your grammar and punctuation. Just saying.

Kelly Polark said...

I love this post. The misuse of plurals and apostrophes bug me! (did I do the plural of apostrophe okay??!)

Yesterday at a store, there were a bunch of the same frame that said THE GIRL'S with photos of two girls in each photo. Someone actually produces thousands of these and put them in stores!!

In two classrooms where I teach (and my kids go), there were apostrophe errors on bulletin boards! I wanted to tell them to fix it! But I didn't want to seem like a know-it-all. But looking back, I should tell them so other parents won't see their errors! ARGH!

DWei said...

There are tons of poor spelling in the education system.

People love taking pictures of those and posting it on Reddit for that sweet, sweet karma.

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh, I can tell you those children are not getting an education on apostrophe placement!

Yesterday, my family and I went to Honkfest in Harvard Square. There were two vendors selling cannolis. One spelled it "cannoli's" and the other spelled it "cannolis". I told my son he had to buy one at the place without the apostrophe. Good thing the place I chose had them $1 cheaper. I guess apostrophes are expensive.

Technically, one is cannolo and two is cannoli, but since most people who don't speak Italian don't know that, I guess both signs were actually wrong.

traci's mixed bag said...

Great lesson! I love how you mix grammar lessons with life.

I used to change for the men I dated. It was a miserable way to live. Good thing I grew up.

SarcasticTestGuy said...

The lack of understanding for use of an apostrophe is a great source of head shaking for me. We all make mistakes, but some of us don't learn!

Rebecca said...

I work at an elementary school, and I am sorry to say that grammar mistakes are an overly common occurrence there. The worst one I have witnessed was on the back of the fifth graders' class tee shirts last year.

We are the Holling Hawks, but the back of the shirts read: Holling Hawk's.

And to think that those 60 fifth graders wore those shirts at various places around town celebrating their "Fifth Grade Farewell" (and the end if their elementary education)!