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Potato's

Mind that apostrophe.
jfgw
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Potato's

#55275

Postby jfgw » May 21st, 2017, 7:43 pm

The apostrophes in "carrot's", "onion's" and "mushroom's" (used as plurals) are clearly examples of grocers' apostrophes but what about "potato's" (and "tomato's)?

The correct plural of "potato" is "potatoes" and, while "potato's" is incorrect, it seems nonetheless an otherwise correct use of the apostrophe as it represents the missing "e". As such, is it incorrect to refer to the apostrophe in "potato's" as a grocers' apostrophe?

Julian F. G. W.

chas49
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Re: Potato's

#55277

Postby chas49 » May 21st, 2017, 7:50 pm

Yes - because the apostrophe to stand for (a) missing letter(s) is to form a contraction, such as It's for It is.

It isn't used for letters just arbitrarily removed.

Potato's can only be a possessive - meaning something belonging or relating to a potato; e.g.
A potato's aim in life is to become a chip


All IMHO of course

bungeejumper
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Re: Potato's

#55314

Postby bungeejumper » May 22nd, 2017, 9:17 am

My, how I pine for the good old days when the President of the United States thought that the singular of the word was potatoe. :roll:

BJ

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Potato's

#55315

Postby AleisterCrowley » May 22nd, 2017, 9:27 am

I thought it was J. Danforth Quayle who had that problem?

bungeejumper
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Re: Potato's

#55321

Postby bungeejumper » May 22nd, 2017, 10:08 am

AleisterCrowley wrote:I thought it was J. Danforth Quayle who had that problem?

I stand corrected. Thank you!

BJ

jfgw
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Re: Potato's

#58688

Postby jfgw » June 8th, 2017, 6:54 pm

chas49 wrote:Yes - because the apostrophe to stand for (a) missing letter(s) is to form a contraction, such as It's for It is.

It isn't used for letters just arbitrarily removed.

Potato's can only be a possessive - meaning something belonging or relating to a potato; e.g.
A potato's aim in life is to become a chip


All IMHO of course


I've been thinkin' 'bout that while listening to some '50s rock 'n' roll on my 'phone. An apostrophe is often used for shortened forms of single words, not just for contractions. Apostrophes can sometimes be seen on road signs and road markings to represent arbitrarily removed letters, for example, Southboro' for Southborough.

My own conclusion is this:

The apostrophe in "potato's" (as a plural) normally is a grocers' apostrophe. However, if the author's intent was to use the apostrophe to replace the "e" in "potatoes", it is not a grocers' apostrophe. Both uses are written in exactly the same way and it is not possible, just by looking at the word, to tell how that particular apostrophe is being used.

Ambiguous phrases and sentences are common so why not ambiguous words?

This writing on the subject of ambiguity reminds me of the WW2 newspaper headline, "Monty Flies Back to Front". There are at least three possible meanings (if you bend the grammar a bit for the "faulty trousers" one).


Julian F. G. W.


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