A few years ago I saw the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves in an airport. I remember thinking, I want to read that sometime. It's a book about punctuation. (Don't look so excited.) So, since I'm on a mission to become a less-ignorant grammarian (I consider punctuation a subset of grammar), I recently picked it up from the library.
I really can't explain exactly why I'm suddenly interested in mastering the rules of grammar. I don't know of many (okay, any) other people who read books about punctuation for leisure. Perhaps I just don't run in the right circles? All I can say is that I would like to improve my writing skills. As I edit my posts I've been paying a little more attention to whether or not my sentences are grammatically correct and I became slightly disconcerted to realize that many times, I don't actually know. And now, here you are, helping me to work through my grammatical demons. Yay! (Am I normal? Don't answer that.)
I digress. Back to the book. It's fabulous. But it has shown me that I knew even less than I thought I did about correct punctuation. I was going to do this first WWW post about the semi colon. But my reading has shown me that I have about as much understanding of the semi colon as I have of rocket science. And what do I know about rocket science? Well, I have seen a rocket once or twice. Who knew that the semi colon conveys buckets of nuanced meaning?
The semi colon will have to wait. Possibly until I obtain another degree. So, here's an easy tidbit, a piece of information that has somehow eluded me in my 12 years of school and 6 years of higher education:
You probably all know that to make a singular word possessive, you and an -'s: Peter's hat. Leslie's questionable sanity.
To denote a plural possessive, you add an s': The cats' box (more than one cat); the girls' shoes (more than one girl).
But there are exceptions! I was surprised to learn that when you want to show the possessive of a plural word that does not end in -s, you use the -'s again! Did you know this?!? I did not.
For example: children. Children, the plural of child, does not end in -s. The correct plural possessive of children is children's. Not childrens', as you would think according to the rules above.
Correct plural possessive: The children's toys.
Another good example: women. Women's is the correct plural possessive, not womens', again contrary to the rules.
Correct plural possessive: The Women's movement.
You learn something new everyday! Some days, more than you anticipated!