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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:
activate · 04/01/2011 17:18

Do's and Don'ts is "Does and Do nots" only explanation

well it's not, the other is that the publisher of the book and Americans do not know the correct usage and have bastardised it - but surely an entire nation would not bastardise another nation's language - shurely not Grin

minipie · 04/01/2011 17:34

Can I add mus'n't to the two apostrophes list?

(along with sha'n't)

Again, generally only seen in 19th century and earlier works.

GrimmaTheNome · 04/01/2011 17:43

You could, but "must not" is usually simply elided to "mustn't" even though invariably pronounced with a glottal stop.

PrincessFiorimonde · 04/01/2011 20:12

Grimma - yes, sorry, fo'c'sle.

Chambers also bo's'n as a variant of bosun.

PrincessFiorimonde · 04/01/2011 20:12

... also has bo's'n ...

hocuspontas · 04/01/2011 21:20

You could use 'don't's' in the following sentence - "the do's column is longer than the don't's". I think that makes sense.

GrimmaTheNome · 04/01/2011 22:05

Wouldn't it be "dos'" and "don'ts'" as presumably the columns contain multiple dos and don'ts though? Grin

hocuspontas · 04/01/2011 22:11

There's always one smarter arse.... Grin

activate · 05/01/2011 17:49


claps hands ecstatically

she said "elided"


it's all posh 'ere innit?

nickelbabyjesus · 08/01/2011 14:23

still wouldn't use an apostrophe in a plural lower case letter - as has been pointed out, using the "" or '' is neater and makes more sense.

How many "i"s in initial?
mind your "p"s and "q"s.

JesseChisholm · 21/04/2015 18:45

Speaking as an American, the habit of putting the apostrophe into "Do's" is relatively new. With the advent of DOS (Disk Operating System) in many people's homes, we got lazy and added the apostrophe to tell them apart. :(

We sh'd'n't've done it, IMHO.

Context will tell you if you are talking about DOS or some list of Dos.

Cooroo · 22/04/2015 22:59

I am awestruck that you all typed those posts with so many quotes and apostrophes and elisions. Hope you were on proper keyboards! The thought of making a point in this thread via phone hurts my head.

TheSpottedZebra · 22/04/2015 23:09

Wow, Jesse, what were you Googling to find this thread?

It's a zombie thread. So Cooroo it is slightly more likely that they were on a proper keyboard.

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