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can a word have two apostrophes? as in don't's (thinking of "do's and don't's")

63 replies

Greythorne · 03/01/2011 22:25

I do know how apostrophes work, i promise. And I know normal nouns in the plural don't have apostrophes (cats, dogs, ladies etc). But some words do take apostrophes in the plural:

  • abbreviations (D.V.D.'s)

So, what about do's and don't's? I am tempted to write "don't's" but that looks so strange.

What do you think?
OP posts:
ChoChoSan · 03/01/2011 22:29

Don'ts has only one apostrophe.

Greythorne · 03/01/2011 22:31


OP posts:
jade80 · 03/01/2011 22:31

No. Just no....noooo!

It should be DVDs anyway, no?

prism · 03/01/2011 22:32

Abbreviations don't take apostrophes either (as plurals). It's DVDs, 1990s, GCSEs, etc.

mablemurple · 03/01/2011 22:32

Dos and don'ts are plurals and do not need an apostrophe before the final s. Don't is a contraction of do not, and needs an apostrophe to indicate a missing letter.

Greythorne · 03/01/2011 22:32

So why does do become do's?

OP posts:
Blu · 03/01/2011 22:32

Why would it have an apostrophe?

DVDs, as a plural, doesn't have an apostrophe, either.

GrimmaTheNome · 03/01/2011 22:33

Don'ts has just the one because of the missing letter. Its a plural not a possessive - abbreviation of 'do nots'

If you can think of any elided possessive then it might have two, but I can't come up with one.

I have, however, come across 'shall not' written as "sha'n't" in an old book (the Princess and the Goblin, I think) - this is arguably correct because the "ll" of shall and the "o" of not are both omitted.

mablemurple · 03/01/2011 22:33

It doesn't!

GrimmaTheNome · 03/01/2011 22:34

So why does do become do's?

It doesn't. It should be "dos and don'ts"

mablemurple · 03/01/2011 22:34

That was to Greythorne 22:32 post.

stickersarecurrency · 03/01/2011 22:34

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm not so sure that you do know how apostrophes work. This thread title is making my teeth itch, yowch.

Blu · 03/01/2011 22:35

DVDs could have an apostrophe if you were talking of a posession of the DVDs
The DVDs' shelf, perhaps. If it was the shelf of more than ne DVD.

singingcat · 03/01/2011 22:36

Plurals don't have apostrophes

Same goes for 1970s, 1560s, NOT 1920's

Slambang · 03/01/2011 22:36

Don'ts would only have a second apotrophe if there was somebody called Don't and you were using their possessive form.

e.g. Are they Mary's shoes? No they're Don't's.

The sense you are using Don'ts is plural and so does not need a possessive apostrophe.
Nor does Dos.

mablemurple · 03/01/2011 22:37

Or the DVD's shelf if it had the luxury of a shelf all to itself!

DirtyMartini · 03/01/2011 22:42

Not meaning to be horrendous to you, OP, but PMSL a bit at you boldly claiming to know how apostrophes work. I hope you are gonna be able to laugh about this Grin
GrimmaTheNome · 03/01/2011 22:44

Yes, pity the OP didn't leave it at the first sentence because then we could have happily debated my "sha'n't" example Grin

DirtyMartini · 03/01/2011 22:52

I have seen 'sha'n't' as well a few times -- v old-fashioned, like 'phone or 'plane.

DirtyMartini · 03/01/2011 22:56

OP, come back and show us you are unscathed. I am concerned lest the senior pedants here in the Corner have mauled you to death and are now dancing gleefully around your grave.

slartybartfast · 03/01/2011 22:56

ooh on my spell check it likes Dos and changes Don'ts or even donts to Don't s

with a space Hmm

GrimmaTheNome · 03/01/2011 22:56

Older than either of those, but whereas they have really become words in their own right, "sha'n't" is still just a contraction of 'shall not' even if we now miss one apostrophe and just write "shan't" most of the time.

Greythorne · 03/01/2011 23:13

oh, dirtymartini, I am back!

And unscathed!

OK, I really do know how plurals and apostrophes work....this is what is confusing me:

  1. I am half American and in the US, abbreviations ARE given an apostrophe! It's true.

2. Take a look at this book published in the US, proudly bearing do's, not dos.

3. Plural letters in lowercase are given an apostrophe, such as "how many i's are there in "initial"?"

4. Finally, in the US, we also us an apostrophe in 1960's etc....strange but true.

I am bruised but not down, yet!
OP posts:
DirtyMartini · 03/01/2011 23:18

Yes, I didn't intend to suggest they were all of the same vintage; the latter two just sprang to mind as further examples of words formerly written with more apostrophes than would be usual today.

slartybartfast · 03/01/2011 23:20

in that book grey it talks ab out do's and dont's....

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