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Grammar query

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Cleverina Clogs
12144.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:07 am Reply with quote

This has been driving me nuts for ages, and not being quite the grammarian I look to fellow QI boffins for answers! - which is correct? princess' dress or princesse's dress? or whatever!

I have seen possessive words ending in s with an extra s on them (ie Sus's) and without (Sus') ... which is correct?

12149.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:25 am Reply with quote

Or even Princess's dress?

12153.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:30 am Reply with quote

According to MS Word, it's princessís dress

12154.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:37 am Reply with quote

It depends how spittle-filled your pen is.

I was taught that you should not put three s's [I know, strictly there shouldn''t be an apostrophe in there but it looks silly without it] all in a row as if you were speaking aloud you were likely to drown or at least disconcert your hearer. But grammar is an art, not a science. So, one princess, two princesses; one princess's dress, but one princess' scissors. Like 'Jesus' socks'. With plurals ending in 's', of course, where the apostrophe is terminal, you just leave the thing hanging in midair like the tail on a donkey. However, let us spray that nobody's going to lynch you if you disagree with their personal preference. Like the s's above.

12155.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:40 am Reply with quote

Sorry about the grammatical mistake there - we really need a common third-person singular perrsonal adjective. 'his/her' is very awkward.

12157.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:42 am Reply with quote

I agree. His or her (his/her) is such an annoying law of writing. I could kick my computer screen in everytime I see that red squiggle come up under my use of the word: them. We need a word for it!

12164.  Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:09 pm Reply with quote

"Their" works for me.

12170.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:56 am Reply with quote

I would vote for "princess' dresses" for one princess, and "princesses' dresses" for more than one princess. At any rate, that's what I used to teach my students. If you say it out loud, at least that preserves the distinction between the singular and plural princesses.

12183.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:52 am Reply with quote

2 questions related to apostrophes in London:

1) Why is St James's Square not St James' Square ?
2) Why does Earl's Court have an apostrophe and Barons Court doesn't ?

12184.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:05 am Reply with quote

his/her underlined in your spellchecker, have you tried clicking on add?

Did Earl's Court belong to an Earl & was Barons Court a place where Barons hung out?

12197.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:10 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
"Their" works for me.

Me too. But does it work for them? I mean Him/ Her? (them being Microsoft word, being him or her.)

12198.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:51 pm Reply with quote

Jessica wrote:
2 questions related to apostrophes in London:

1) Why is St James's Square not St James' Square ?
2) Why does Earl's Court have an apostrophe and Barons Court doesn't ?

1) the area of St James is quite an old area of London, St James Palace has been there since Tudor times (Henry viii knew how to treat his women, He gives Ann Bolyne a leper hospital for a palace, then realising it was bad manners to do that, he cuts off her head to prevent the embaressment) The hospital was also named St James so that could explain the differance in punctuation

2) Perhaps there was only one Earl that held court at Earl's Court and more than on Baron at Barons Court

12200.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:32 pm Reply with quote

I 've always thought that grammar is a little like musical improvisation. If it sounds right/good, it is. So I tend not to worry at it too much.

(note completely ungrammatical last sentence which MSWord has just passed as OK!)

Anyway, where would James Joyce or Anthony Burgess have got if they'd applied strict grammar?

12201.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:35 pm Reply with quote

Purposely Ungrammatical Love Song

There's many and many, and not so far,
Is willing to dry my tears away;
There's many to tell me what you are,
And never a lie to all they say.

It's little the good to hide my head,
It's never the use to bar my door;
There's many as counts the tears I shed,
There's mourning hearts for my heart is

There's honester eyes than your blue eyes,
There's better a mile than such as you.
But when did I say that I was wise,
And when did I hope that you were true?

(Dorothy Parker)

12202.  Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:44 pm Reply with quote

This won't help at all, but some may find it of interest:


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