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Grove Motors

June 12, 2014

Near where I live there is a car dealer called Grove Motors, and for years I’ve had to endure seeing their little sticker in the rear windows of parked cars, which reads Grove Motor’s (sic). Why do misplaced apostrophes bug me so much? I think it’s the misguided attempt at correctness – the apostrophe-inserter thinks they are demonstrating knowledge of a rule, when they are doing precisely the opposite. (For that reason I don’t mind missing apostrophes nearly so much.) The rule they’re actually following is: if a word which can end without an s has one added on, then the s must be preceded by an apostrophe. By unfortunate coincidence, both of the correct usages of the apostrophe lend colour to this interpretation: not only do possessive nouns end in s and have an apostrophe, but many of the more common contractions which require apostrophes also happen to end in s (it’s, what’s, that’s, let’s).

Anyway this story has a happy ending, because recently I’ve been seeing newer models of cars in the neighbourhood which now sport a sticker saying Grove Motors. No apostrophe. Obviously some kind friend has had a word with the dealer. A small victory, but it shows the battle for correctness is not invariably a losing one.

On the other hand, while out with the dog this morning I saw a car with the rear-window sticker Pheonnix (sic) Motors. One step forward, one step back. 

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One Comment
  1. Jams O'Donnell permalink

    Is there a more ubiquitous error in print than it’s for its?

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