grammer question..

On, they talk about “low cost PC’s”.

I’m unclear on why that gets a apostrophe. I agree that when I type PCs, it’s tempting to put a apostrophe there, but under what rule? I thought apostrophes either indicated possessiveness (and clearly the PCs don’t own themselves) or the contraction of multiple words (and again, not relevant). There’s a third usage – plurals, and that seems the most likely, since there are indeed many PCs, but then I looked up the rules.. .. and it didn’t seem like that was the reason either. Of course, might be incorrect, and I do think the common usage is PC’s, but.. odd.

9 Responses to “grammer question..”

  1. bakeme Says:

    i think it’s your second option, the contraction of multiple letters. PC stands for personal computer, so if you want to put an s for plurality in place of the letters ‘omputer’, you need to put an apostrophe there to mark it.

  2. skotte Says:

    You are absolutely correct. PCs has no apostrophe. Americans like to put apostrophes in pluralized words, especially in pluralized acronyms. It’s something of a pet peeve of mine, actually.

  3. skotte Says:

    What? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard today. You should use a period fFor the letters ‘omputer’ as in: P.C. more than one P.C. is done as P.C.s but we happen to be perfectly willing to drop the periods to get simply PC and PCs. Apostrophes are for possessives and contractions only. Anything else is invented justification fFor bad habits.

  4. anghouedd Says:

    I believe people do it because it looks better. Apostrophes should not be used for plurals. Contractions, yes. Possessives, yes. Apostrophes applied to words along with the letter S in an attempt at pluralizing them are wrong. Some people use them because it looks better to them, especially with things like acronyms or numbers.

  5. bakeme Says:

    well excuse me.

    in what sense is PC not a contraction?

  6. skotte Says:

    It’s an abbreviation. Like RADAR, HTML, USA, USSR and WYSIWYG. It is correct to use periods in abbreviations, but it can look clumsy, so it is also okay to drop the periods.

    A contraction is where we make two words into one, such as it’s, isn’t, aren’t, and I’ve.

  7. bakeme Says:

    that sounds about right. as it happens, i agree, and don’t use apostrophes when i write ‘PCs’. (although i wouldn’t be terribly surprised to find that i have done so in the past)

    however, the convention of dropping the periods from abbreviations muddies the waters. in a sense it is creating a single new word, albeit not always one not pronounced in the usual way. this (potential) new word is composed of letters from two other words, but not all the letters from those two other words. this, one could argue, blurs the line between abbreviations (at least of this sort) and contractions, potentially opening the door to the apostrophe usage at issue here.

  8. skotte Says:

    fFair enough. And there are plenty of ‘new words’ which seem to defy any sense of convention. Examples are Mr, Mrs, and IPSec. The names William, Thomas and George, in earlier times, were often abbreviated to Wm. Th. and Geo. I’ve never been quite clear on the reasoning of this.

  9. ClintJCL Says:

    PC’s just looks stupid.

    As for apostrophes, what’s up with these ones that look just like a normal apostrophe, but can’t be replaced with search-and-replace because they are some b.s. unicode apostrophe from another language. Is it really necessary to have 3+ different apostrophes?

    At work we call them “Al Queda” apostrophes, and they mess things up. At home, the “mv” command fails on files with those, so I have to go into explorer (yuck) and manually replace the apostrophe (yuck).

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