John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coming attractions

Where to Turn: Resources for Editors

I will be conducting another audio conference for McMurry, publisher of Copyediting, on Thursday, February 18. Details at the link.


National Grammar Day

For the run-up to National Grammar Day on March 4, I am in the middle of writing another grammarnoir serial, “Pulp Diction,” which will appear at this blog.


ACES national conference

The fourteenth national conference of the American Copy Editors Society will take place April 15-17 in Philadelphia. If you have not signed up, there is still time to register.


Annie

The Memorial Players production of the musical Annie will be presented on the evenings of April 23-24 and April 30-May 1, and on the afternoons of April 25 and May 2, at Memorial Episcopal Church, Bolton Street and Lafayette Avenue in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill Neighborhood.

Details are at the link, but one detail not mentioned there is that I have been cast as Franklin Roosevelt in this production.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Yes, Joneses. That’s how it’s done. Today we’re going to have a little refresher tutorial on plurals and possessives. If you’ve already got that down, or think you do, you may go to the library and find a book to read until the next post.

Singular

mule
man
Compson
Snopes

Singular possessive

mule’s
man’s
Compson’s
Snopes’s or Snopes’

Plural

mules
men
Compsons
Snopeses

Plural possessive

mules’
men’s
Compsons’
Snopeses’

Be careful

No matter how many times you have seen it done, do not make nouns plural by adding ’s. The Smith’s is not a proper plural. Neither is the Jones'. The apostrophe can, however, be used to make individual letters — all A’s in the editing class — or numerals — aces and 8’s — plural.

Either Jones’s or Jones’ may be used for the singular possessive. Both usages are current; which one you choose will depend on the style your publication prefers.

Watch out for words that form plurals without adding s or es. If you write childrens’ — and people do — your literacy will be called into question.

Such is the melancholy state of education in this proud republic that I must conduct this elementary review every semester for juniors and seniors at a private university. It would therefore not come as a great shock if some of you would benefit from it, too.