I wrote this post in 2013. I'm bringing it back from the archives in honour of the event.
Yes, there is such a thing, and it's today. There really should be greetings cards for the occasion for people to send to their favourite copy-editors... ahem.
The Guardian are holding an apostrophe-themed haiku competition. Here's my entry:
I like the way you keep us
on our toes with 'its'.
Mildly interesting fact: when I became self-employed, I considered calling my business 'Apostrophe', but the domain name was already taken. 'Semicolon' didn't have quite the same ring to it.
And while we're on the subject, here's a blog post I wrote a little while ago on plurals and possessives.
Every few weeks, it seems, someone tells me that they wish they had my job and that they think they would be good at proofreading. (I write and edit as well, but people often have the idea that I sit about reading books all day. That would be nice but is not quite accurate.)
Sometimes people even tell me they are proofreaders, when they actually mean that they like spotting mistakes in things other people have written, which is not quite the same. I rarely correct people. (I do try to be polite, even in the face of quite extreme idiocy.)
Recently, someone who shall remain nameless noticed a typo in an email I'd sent, and they emailed back to point it out, quoting dictionary definitions of the word I'd intended (rein) and the homophone I'd used instead (reign). In a rush, I'd added a single letter. (Yes, it happens. I try to check most things but I do sometimes put my radar on a slightly less intense setting for non-work words, for the sake of everyone's sanity. For example, I do not stop weddings to point out mistakes in orders of service. Promise.)
A couple of days ago, the same person handed me an envelope addressed to me and my husband. On it was written 'The Giles's'. I smiled, while inside steam was gathering. The frequent inability of others to correctly pluralise my surname is one of my pet hates.
Because of this person's previous email, I am tempted (oh, so very tempted) to return the envelope to them with a guide to pluralisation and possessives inside. Instead, I am going to vent here so everyone can benefit from this simple explanation. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference. Here goes.
- Singular (just me): Sarah Giles
- Plural (me and my husband): The Gileses
- Singular possessive (something that belongs to me): Sarah Giles's book
- Plural possessive (something that belongs to us): The Gileses' house
If this isn't clear, you can read an explanation from the Oxford English Dictionary team here. I also recommend Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal for help with all of life's lovely grammatical nuances.
While I'm discussing my surname, I'll just add that it is pronounced jai-uls (phonetic spelling /ʤʌɪlz/). Rhymes with miles. Soft G, like giraffe. Not gill-ezz, gills, or guy-uls. Receptionists and call centre operatives of the world, I'm talking to you.
P.S. There is no H in cappuccino. But perhaps that's one for another day...