Which punctuation is correct please?

(21 Posts)
MaggieW Tue 05-Mar-13 10:24:32

A. "Contains cow's milk"

B. "Contains cows milk"

I think B, but am confusing myself. It's not the milk of one cow but a herd, so which is right please?

shrimponastick Tue 05-Mar-13 10:28:53

Hmmm.
Or from the milk of multiple cows .

C. Contains cows' milk.

I think probably cows milk without any apostrophe would be commonly used?

Am interested to see what other posters say.

I would go with
C. "Contains cows' milk"

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 05-Mar-13 10:32:23

C!

rabbitstew Tue 05-Mar-13 10:33:59

Agree C - as you said yourself, it contains the milk of a lot of cows - it is therefore their milk which they have given up for you... seems unfair not to acknowledge that!!!!!

BIWI Tue 05-Mar-13 10:34:27

cows' milk

rabbitstew Tue 05-Mar-13 10:36:41

Or maybe it means contains cows and milk?... grin Or could we create a new word - cowsmilk? Or is it really horsemilk?

Xenia Tue 05-Mar-13 11:18:02

I agree there are multiple cows. There might be an argument that it contains "the milk of the cow" . I think most people use cow's milk.

I then looked it up and saw some support for my cow's milk here

forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1464814

The reason cow's milk felt right to me as it was a kind of generic singular - the milk of the cow for some reason.

peteneras Tue 05-Mar-13 11:23:09

I'd say, contains 'cow milk'.

Not goat milk or camel milk or horse milk, but cow milk, IYSWIM grin

MaggieW Tue 05-Mar-13 12:19:21

Oooh - thank you - very interesting, esp. the forum Xenia. Thanks again.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Tue 05-Mar-13 12:23:21

in that context cow is an uncountable noun so doesn't take a plural
so a is right,
may be c
b is definitely wrong

rabbitstew Tue 05-Mar-13 12:57:46

a is definitely the most used form. It is the form I would have used if I hadn't been asked to think about it. If I were thinking about it, I would, as already stated, favour c, because you KNOW the milk won't have come from just one cow, so I think you would be hard pressed to say it is incorrect (ie you could still hold your head high and argue your corner, even if nobody else is interested in the number of cows involved!...). grin

Xenia Tue 05-Mar-13 15:12:38

Yes, that;s how I do my grammar - what feels right - the milk of the cow, singular and that is most used too so I think we're on safe ground. The link tries to explain why the singular may well be right.

KateShrub Tue 05-Mar-13 16:38:12

It won't contain a cow's milk, because of the manufacturing and bottling process meaning that the milk is that of many, many cows. Not one.

grovel Tue 05-Mar-13 17:31:48

x

grovel Tue 05-Mar-13 17:33:07

The Guardian style book agrees with Xenia! Para 5.

apostrophes
used to indicate a missing letter or letters (can't, we'd) or a possessive (David's book).

Don't let anyone tell you that apostrophes don't matter and we would be better off without them. Consider these four phrases, each of which means something different:
my sister's friend's books (refers to one sister and her friend).
my sister's friends' books (one sister with lots of friends).
my sisters' friend's books (more than one sister, and their friend).
my sisters' friends' books (more than one sister, and their friends).

The possessive in words and names ending in S normally takes an apostrophe followed by a second S (Jones's, James's), but be guided by pronunciation and use the plural apostrophe where it helps: Mephistopheles', Waters', Hedges' rather than Mephistopheles's, Waters's, Hedges's.

Plural nouns that do not end in S take an apostrophe and S in the possessive: children's games, old folk's home, people's republic, etc.

Phrases such as butcher's knife, collector's item, cow's milk, goat's cheese, pig's blood, hangman's noose, writer's cramp, etc are treated as singular.

Use apostrophes in phrases such as two days' time, 12 years' imprisonment and six weeks' holiday, where the time period (two days) modifies a noun (time), but not in nine months pregnant or three weeks old, where the time period is adverbial (modifying an adjective such as pregnant or old) – if in doubt, test with a singular such as one day's time, one month pregnant.

Some shops use an apostrophe, wrongly, to indicate a plural ("pea's"), but will generally omit the apostrophe when one is actually required ("new seasons asparagus"), a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the greengrocer's (or grocer's) apostrophe. Try to avoid this

KateShrub Tue 05-Mar-13 18:14:39

Lol @ citing the Grauniad as an authority on grammer. [sic]

grovel Tue 05-Mar-13 18:18:57

I know but Xenai (sic) and the Grauniad being in agreement was even better!

Euphemia Tue 05-Mar-13 18:59:21

Phrases such as butcher's knife, collector's item, cow's milk, goat's cheese, pig's blood, hangman's noose, writer's cramp, etc are treated as singular.

^ this

So cow's milk = the milk of the cow i.e. from that species, rather than implying the milk is from a single animal.

Xenia Wed 06-Mar-13 08:56:10

I think all the links show that cow's milk is probably the best.

On the 12 months' etc always try putting "of" in it and that helps. So 12 months of imprisonment becomes 12 months' imprisonment, whereas 9 months pregnant could not be 9 months of pregnant - so doing that test helps you decide if it is one of those where you add the possessive apostrophe.

breadandbutterfly Thu 07-Mar-13 11:21:33

Good tip,Xenia. I shall try to remember that.

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