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Pedants' corner


8 replies

feralgirl · 19/10/2010 19:39

I am an English teacher and my faculty were debating the use of apostrophes in numbers such as the 1980s. I am of the opinion that 80s is correct and 80's is incorrect, since it's a pluralisation and therefore does not require an aopstrophe (and also because Fowler says so).

However two of my colleagues jumped on me claiming that it's a "stylistic thing" and that 80's is perfectly correct as it's fine to use an apostrophe to separate numbers and letters. One cited her previous employment as a magazine subeditor and the other cited Lynn Truss who apparently thinks that 80's is OK (it's a while since I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves; I can't remember).

In my family, Fowler's word is law so my questions are these:

  1. Who was right, my colleagues or me?
  2. More importantly, in Pedants' Top Trumps, who scores higher; Truss or Fowler?
OP posts:
choufleur · 19/10/2010 19:40

I don't know who wins Top Trumps but you are right.

lollipopshoes · 19/10/2010 19:42

I would say definitely no to apostrophes after numbers.

Just as I would say no to apostrophes after abbreviations - eg: MOT's would be a no from me.

And I think Fowler trumps Truss

feralgirl · 19/10/2010 19:44

Good. My ex-subediting colleague also thought that GCSE's was OK. She did live in the States for a while; do they have different laws over there?

OP posts:
hocuspontas · 19/10/2010 19:44

I agree with you. E.g. Fashion in the 80s. 80's fashion. Can't believe Lynn Truss thinks otherwise Shock

BerryScaryJuice · 19/10/2010 19:51

Fowler definitely trumps Truss. It does have to be the most current edition though (obviously)

feralgirl · 19/10/2010 19:54

Ooh, mine's a few years old . Not sure if it's the latest ed.

I'm still right though

OP posts:
unfitmother · 19/10/2010 20:04

Fowler gets my vote.

prism · 19/10/2010 21:47

It certainly is a "stylistic thing" but it's the intrusive apostrophe that's stylistic (I wonder, as an aside, whether that can be considered to be a word at all) as opposed to correct English usage- just like "chip's", "boot's" and- wait for it- this is a direct quote from someone in middle management at BBC Worldwide...


you couldn't make it up, and you most certainly wouldn't want to.

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