Send me your punctuation and grammar questions

Have a question about punctuation or grammar? Please comment below and I’ll post the answer in this forum.

4 thoughts on “Send me your punctuation and grammar questions

  1. Hey Matt,

    You asked for it… Can you explain to me how apostrophe s works when using a possessive noun? I’ve got most of it down:

    Maarten’s e-mail
    Matt’s financial peace

    but when names end in s:

    my boss’s office or my boss’ office?
    Jesus’s disciples or Jesus’ disciples?

    Thanks for your input!

    1. Good question, Maarten. My answer comes from the Associated Press Stylebook, which is used by journalists (you might get a different answer from an academic writer).

      When common nouns (boss) end in s, you need apostrophe s at the end. So, “boss’s office” is correct. The exception is if the word following starts with s. So, “boss’ seat.”

      When proper nouns (Jesus) end in s, you only need the apostrophe. So, “Jesus’ disciples” is correct.

    1. “Obscure uses” is right! “Grammar Girl” has a nice piece on the standard and obscure uses here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/affect-versus-effect. She says, “… effect can be used as a verb that essentially means ‘to bring about,’ or ‘to accomplish.’ For example, you could say, ‘Aardvark hoped to effect change within the burrow.’ Dictionary.com also includes “to produce as an effect” and “make happen” as more definitions for this obscure use. In my world of consumer content (mainly magazines), if it’s obscure, it’s most likely time to rewrite the sentence so it isn’t obscure. Unless you need it for a comic :)

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