Tag Archives: apostrophes

More about Apostrophes

You probably know that you should avoid using apostrophes to signify that you’re writing about more than one person or thing. It’s incorrect, for example, to write “The Johnson’s are on vacation this week.” The correct version is “The Johnsons are on vacation this week.”

But there’s an exception: Plurals of numerals and single letters use apostrophes. Here are some examples:

  • The 4’s in your reimbursement request look like 9’s.
  • The computer turned all the x’s in the report into t’s.
  • I found an envelope stuffed with 10’s and 20’s.

Using apostrophes correctly showcases you as an officer who takes writing seriously. Start today!

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Apostrophes Practice

Today’s quiz will help you review apostrophes. Scroll down for the answers. (To read an explanation about placing apostrophes correctly, click here. To view a video about apostrophes, click here.)
1.  I saw scratch marks near the lock on the front door of the Browns house.
2. Officer Lewis investigation was thorough and efficient.
3.  The Browns were out of down all weekend.
4.  A TV in the childrens bedroom was missing.
5.  Mrs. Browns jewelry box was still in its usual place, undisturbed.
ANSWERS
1.  I saw scratch marks near the lock on the front door of the Browns’ house.  (house of Browns)
2. Officer Lewis’ investigation was thorough and efficient.  (investigation of Officer Lewis – “Lewis’s” is also correct)
3.  The Browns were out of down all weekend.  (no apostrophe: there’s no “of” idea)
4.  A TV in the childrens bedroom was missing.  (bedroom of the children)
5.  Mrs. Brown’s jewelry box was still in its usual place, undisturbed.  (jewelry box of Mrs. Brown) (For more apostrophes practice, click here.)

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Plurals of Names

As a police or corrections officer, you’re going to be writing people’s names in almost every report–an easy skill for most officers until they encounter plurals. It’s easy to write down what Cynthia Santos said or did. But what if you interview the whole family? There’s already an “s” at the end of Santos.

And simpler names can also present difficulties. How do you form the plural of Smith, Clark, Patterson, and similar names?

Help is on the way…along with a memory device.

Let’s start with words (not names) that end with “s” and see how they’re done:

boss     gas     kiss     virus     witness     iris

To form the plural, just add -es:

bosses     gases     kisses     viruses     witnesses     irises

Now let’s do the plurals of names ending in “s.” They’re done the same way: Just add –es.

Santos     Jones     Reynolds     Willis     Thomas     Lewis

Santoses     Joneses     Reynoldses     Willises     Thomases     Lewises

What about ordinary names that don’t end in “s”? Well, how do you form the plural of an ordinary word? You just add “s,” of course. Names work the same way:

Smith     Clark     Patterson     Riley     Brown

Smiths     Clarks     Pattersons     Rileys     Browns

For good measure, here are two tips:

  • If “Reynoldses” sounds odd to you (it does to me, even though it’s my family’s name!), just use the Reynolds family.
  • NEVER use an apostrophe to mean more-than-one. Apostrophes are for “of” expressions: Mr. Riley’s car was found in an empty lot two blocks away. CORRECT
 

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