Monday, March 14, 2011

Plurals, Possessives, and Plural Possessives were not created equal

Jacket and pumps, Banana Republic. Skirt, Club Monaco. Beret, Joe Fresh. Necklace (as a bracelet), mom's vintage. Tights, Hue.

Let's start with a common mistake: "Last weekend, I went to my parent's house." Unless you mean that you have only one parent and would rather not disclose the gender, this is incorrect. Another flawed way would be: "my parents house." It may not be noticeable when speaking, but you should show ownership in your writing, as in "my parents' house."
A recent erroneous trend is using 's to show plurality. I can't even imagine where this comes from, but it breaks my heart every time I read: "We ordered three pizza's." I admit it's partly because I'm lactose intolerant, but if you're gonna rub it in my face, at least be considerate enough to write: "three pizzas." 
Lastly, I would like to address the confusion that comes with the plurals and possessives of last names. Most of my readers are Americans, so the presidential family seems like the perfect guinea pig.

Obama's -  refers to something that pertains to only one of them, such as Obama's policy (Barrack's), or Obama's sartorial choices (Michelle's).
Obamas' - refers to something pertaining to at least two of them or most often, the entire family, such as the Obamas' obvious chemistry (anyone can see that Barrack and Michelle are great together) or the Obamas' dog (Bo belongs to Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia).
Obamas - refers to either Mr. and Mrs. Obama or the family as a whole: The Obamas are the first black presidential couple/family. Other examples include: "Alec is the most successful of the Baldwins" and the ubiquitous "keeping up with the Joneses."

I hope you guys enjoyed this week's grammar installment. It's basic stuff, but we're slowly making our way toward that silly subjunctive and corny conditional clauses.
xoxo,
Grammar Girl.

23 comments:

Lindsay said...

I nearly bought that darling coat years ago and seeing it on you today really wishing I would have! I loved that line (I was a BR merch manager for years and years) it was so Doris Day and lovely and classic. Ahhh.....

Lindsay Living

Jen HaHA said...

Love your jacket! Very Jackie Kennedy (or O., whichever you prefer)!

I don't claim to be a grammar guru, but I hold my own pretty well and I have a piece of paper that implies that I know a thing or two. I might have mentioned that before. This is another thing that bugs me. When I get cards addressed (surname)'s, I think, "Do they mean 'The (surname)'s home.'?" Because that would still be incorrect. I tried to explain to my co-worker how to make a last name that ends with an 's' plural and/or possessive. That was painful! The Joneses' looks so funny!

Thanks for another lesson!
Jen Hemming and Hawing Again

Angeline said...

OMG 's to indicate a plural is one of my biggest pet peeves!

I think something that also severely confuses people about plurals/possessives is when a singular noun ends in an s, in which case you add 's (with a few exceptions) versus when a plural noun ends in an s (just apostrophe). So "this dress's hem is longer than those dresses' hems."

Mrs. J said...

Awww...you look so cute!! I love the jacket and of course your shoes!! ;)

CessOviedo said...

That was hilarious, I'm a ESL teacher, trying my students to understand this takes forever sometimes, you could stop by anytime and explain, I could use some help ... Cute sleek outfit, love the chunky heel on those shoes!

<3 Cess O.
http://blog.cessoviedo.com

Jewelscapes Handmade Jewelry said...

Oh, I'm so glad I can laugh at myself, and am humble enough to admit that this is like another language to me! I'm so happy for your cute style and fun lessons! I need the grammar lessons sooooo badly!! I think it is awesome that you added this feature to your blog. I will try to be a good student. I was an "A" student in school and did awesome in grammar even, but I think 3 kids made everything I learned leak right out of my brain!
(o.k., now you may grammar check above comment for me! hee hee. And feel free to grammar check my blog any time. I take no offense because I openly admit my grammar is horrendous! )
Keep up the good work!

Erin Girard said...

Speaking of Oleg Cassini, this jacket looks like something Jackie would've worn to a formal function at the White House - loove it.

I'm resisting the urge to post a link to this post of a few blogs that I follow despite their grammatical proficiency. You're making the world a better place with these little gems.

Splendor said...

Hey
I am an English language teacher and this is one of the topics we deal with. But you know what? Students learning English as a foreign language pay more attention to these rules than native teenagers. That's just my opinion.
Cheers
Görkem

Shy, Chesterfield said...

I like the simplicity of your outfit and the shoes are a nice contrast! I'll be sure to double check my grammar here! hehe

Shy

The Suburb Experiment said...

I love the jacket. Very chic!

Jenn

Amber Blue Bird said...

wow that was quite the lesson. Even though I know the rules its easy to make mistakes every now and then

wardrobeexperience said...

really love your jacket...

http://wardrobexperience.blogspot.com

Melissa said...

Oh my goodness. You and I could totally be best friends. My ex-husband and I were having a conversation about these exact things last weekend because he noticed some incorrect usage on someone's facebook page. I love this!

Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

Monique said...

I love those pumps, they add such a nice pop of color too!

sparkle is a color (Katrina) said...

Those pumps are amazing, and I am kind of obsessed with reading about grammar, haha. I don't know why, since mine is probably horrific.

Miss Priss Morgan said...

I still have trouble with where to place the possessive apostrophe when somenoe's name ends in an "s." "Thomas' house" or "Thomas's house?"

Lexi said...

Have you read "Eats, Shoots and Leaves?" I think it would be right up your alley!

Anula said...

So lovely outfit!! You look wonderful!!!
I love all the photos :) nice blog :) i'm gonna visit it again :)

angie said...

As an English teacher that I am I enjoyed this very much!It's also good to check on my skills from time to time!

MONKEYFACE said...

Yes I need Miss Priss' help. See what I did right there? Was that correct? Do I need an "s"? And would your answer change we were talking about plurals?

Plz help thx

aaez said...

i love how you are easing us in, very helpful. and i was going to ask the same question as monkeyface!

-aaez

Courtney said...

that jacket is adorable. especially with the beret. very cute.

Beverly said...

love your post..thanks for the lesson! I might come back to it just in case i forget.. :)