The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, February 9, 2016:


“People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The daily newspaper here in town is awful.  I won’t take the space to explain ‘how bad is it?’  Suffice it to say, this is a big disappointment for me, especially because now I rely on online sources and the television for my news.  Between the two, the Internet and TV, I see and hear some lazy and bad writing and speech.

Because we’re in the midst of primary season here in the U. S., the TV is on almost constantly, and a new spoken mistake has made its debut amid the myriad reporters and news anchors.  I don’t recall hearing it before two weeks ago, but since then it seems to be sprouting everywhere like mushrooms.  I saw it in the venerable New York Times yesterday, too, so its spores have blown into the print realm, which means this simple mistake will now grow exponentially and, if experience serves, will become part of our everyday lexicon.

It’s all about an apostrophe and an extra possessive ‘s.’  It’s wrong, and it’s driving me crazy.

Bernie Sanders’ name would be better if it were ‘Sander’ instead, at least for the ‘talking heads’ and the political writers.  When they write or say something like ‘Bernie Sanders’s campaign’ or ‘Sanders’s supporters,’ they’re doing it wrong.  It should be ‘Bernie Sanders’ campaign’ and ‘Sanders’ supporters.’

There is no extra ‘s’ in his name.  Because his name ends in ‘s’ already, the possessive is indicated by the apostrophe alone.  This is almost always the case in such a situation.  His name is thus pronounced the same both ways, if possessive or just saying his surname.  It’s not ‘Sanderses,’ no matter what the pundits say!

Check out my ‘Apostrophe Alerts’ tab on my main page for more examples, including similar possessive ‘esses.’


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