Gorgons and Hydra’s, and Chimera’s dire

I am reading Paradise Lost (from which the title line is a quote) and enjoying many of the ideas in it, along with the erratic spelling and punctuation. Things like “smoak” for “smoke” and the use of apostrophes for pluralizing certain words. And Milton isn’t even consistent within his own work, as in the phrase I quoted. I’ll forgive Milton anyway! In the 17th century English certainly wasn’t as standardized as it is now.

But what’s our excuse? Here are a few notices I’ve seen while running errands over the past month:

“Attention, Patient’s. The office will now be open on Monday’s and Wednesday’s….”

“Parking for ACS Customer’s Only”

I have even (gasp) read notices from teachers to the effect, “Parent’s, please have your children bring a bag lunch on the day of the field trip.”

Apostrophes are used to make plurals ONLY in very specific cases. The rule used to be that they were used to pluralize acronyms, numbers and letters, but the most recent guides say they should only be used with lower-case letters. I won’t freak if someone writes “ABC’s” or “1990’s” since these are common forms and recommended in older style guides. I’ve probably used them myself, so anyone who freaks about them is obviously taking things too far. 🙂

But for every other plural, please stop the madness! Save the apostrophes!!!!

OK, the heat has addled my brain. But I think I was upset about this even before the heat wave. Do you have any grammar and punctuation pet peeves? What are they?

LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, Winner 2006 Golden Quill, Best Historical Romance

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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