back to article Reader succumbs to apostrophe apoplexy

Our stateside correspondent Cade Metz had until this week managed to avoid attracting reader ire and thereby becoming a fully-fledged Reg hack via the usual FoTW baptism of fire. Well, we're delighted to welcome Cade to the Vulture Central elite, whose membership he has deservedly earned by the following apostrophe outrage: …


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  1. JP

    Its a disgrace! Reg jounalists' unable to use apostrophe's!

    How can you POSSIBLY claim to have the publics' interest at heart when its' blatantly obvious you have no idea about the apostrophes use? Its a shame and disgrace! The only hope for El Reg is that it immediately sends it's entire workforce for grammar training, so this type of insult to humanities senses never happens again! And all those that fail should have to report to the boss'es office to explain themselfs!


  2. Ishkandar

    Eats, shoots and leaves......

    Something's lost in translation...

  3. Neil Hoskins

    Quite right too.

    Not often I agree with a FotW. The person responsible for the original outrage should be taken out and summarily shot

  4. Giles Guthrie

    Not even a flame by your standards

    El Reg should look at its own guidelines:

    This alleged "flame" is in breach of most of them.

  5. Dave

    Greengrocer's are exempt

    Just get your qualification as a greengrocer and you too can use apostrophe's wherever you like without fear of retribution. All those lovely cabbage's and cucumber's.

  6. Adrian Waterworth

    Only slightly irritated by the apostrophe...

    ...but horrified by the stuff from the Strategy Boutique guy. I fear that exorcism and deprogramming won't be enough. The merest hint of "cutting edge reader engagement solutions" or "turnkey solutions to their own unique value propositions" should be punishable by an immediate attempt to re-structure the space-time continuum such that the offender not only disappears from existence in the here and now, but ends up never having existed in the first place. And if such a cataclysmic event just happens to dispose of all the rest of the world's joss-sticks and whale-song brigade? Oh well...collateral damage, can't make an omelette, etc.

    Let this one slip through the net and, before you know it, you'll be re-branding yourself as "Monday" or something...

  7. Christoph Hechl


    So is this then what Terry Pratchett describes as a ballistic attitude towards interpunction?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flame fun

    Shouldn't there be a comma between "yourself" and "yet"?

    "... achieved something yourself yet you still haven't worked out how to use an apostrophe"

  9. A J Stiles

    Still not right

    "Google" is a collective noun, and so in some senses must be treated as though it were a plural.

    The fragment in question should have read "..... Google seems intent on serving up tightly woven digital photos of just about everything. *THEIR* ImageAmerica purchase comes just a few days after ...."

    Not "it's" (which is short for "it is"), not "its" (3rd person singular neuter possessive article), but 3rd person plural possessive article.

  10. Ash

    Mr Haines needs to check is PC Dictionary...

    I'm afraid that the word "brainstorm" has been banned from use, as it is an accurate description of what happens during an Epileptic Seizure and may cause offence.

    The appropriate term is now "Thought Shower."

    That'll be 20 Hail Mary's and 5 lashes with the Cat O' Nine Tails.

  11. Dax Farrer


    Surely unless a umlat is involved its just not grammar.

  12. Nano nano


    Just as long as he knows the differences between "lose" / "loose", and "everyday" / "every day" ... to which I should add "setup" (noun) and "set up" (verb).

  13. John PM Chappell

    Collective noun? My arse! But..

    If it were, it would have to read "Google seem.." no, 's' since it would take the plural form of the verb. However, it is an object (either a tool or a company) and thus assuredly singular.

  14. Graham Bartlett

    @AJS: No it isn't!

    (to quote Blackadder II)

    Actually Google is a company. Singular. For example, "Enron *was* the scene of major fraud", but "Enron's directors *were* fraudsters". Although the plural is often used because the company comprises multiple people, technically it's incorrect because the company is a separate entity in its own right, not just a collective noun for the people in it. Sorry.


  15. Tim Croydon

    It is, it has or it hasn't got one

    That's what my Mum always said.

    (And I agree that company names are singular.)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't resist...

    Google is the name given to an aggregate object. It is a reference to that object, so, surely...

    $Google seems intent...


  17. Matthew

    Belonging to...?

    I remember being taught that "it's" could legitimately mean "It is" or, by context, "belonging to it".

    Surely the latter is a legitimate use of an apostrophe in this case? I'm never sure and usually omit the apostrophe because it 'looks wrong'. Perhaps one of the grammar experts could confirm this?

  18. Colin Jackson


    teh stoopid it burnzzzzzz!!!!!!!


  19. Adrian Waterworth

    @Matthew: "its" vs. "it's"

    The proper possessive form of "its" doesn't have an apostrophe. Although I suppose "it's" could potentially serve as an abbreviation for "it has" in some contexts (so I suppose you could say there's a kind of possessive sense in that usage). However, it's much more common for "it's" to be an abbreviation of "it is" (see this sentence for example).

    Hence, when referring to the testicles of a dog you would rightly say "its cobblers", but when referring to an episode of, say, Eastenders or Lost you would rightly say "it's cobblers".

    (Yes, there's probably some other grammatical or typographical error in the above that I haven't spotted. Feel free to draw attention to it if you must.)

  20. David Wilson Clarke


    From Wikipedia, so decide for yourself if it's true or not:

    "No apostrophe is used in the following possessive pronouns and adjectives: yours, his, hers, ours, its, theirs, and whose. (Many people wrongly use it's for the possessive of it; but authorities are unanimous that it's can only properly be a contraction of it is or it has.)"

  21. John PM Chappell

    And don't get me started on...

    ..people who think "who's" is the correct possesive of who/whom. Grrrr. ;¬)

  22. Steven Hunter

    "Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots"

    See also:

  23. Oliverh


    Is not a Collective noun! Its a proper noun! tHe name of a Busi-Ness! Same as its;s' not a verb either?! You technically can't "google" anything, although i give it a few year's before it`s in the O~E¬D!

  24. Richard

    Glibness v sophistry

    Sophistry and glibness are synonymous. The original use of "sophisticated" was pejorative; sophists were silver-tongued liars, rhetoricians etc. The change in meaning might be considered an early harbinger of celebrity culture and pleb-dazzle. Maybe.

  25. RW

    Auto da fe, anyone?

    > When shown the instruments of torture, he further confessed...

    But did he recant and abjure as well?

    At this rate, we can expect orthodox El Reg staffers to be marching around in the Ku Klux Klan-like robes of el penitentes while the flames crackle around the condemned punctuation-challenged.

    My only question: who or what plays the role of the "secular arm" to which condemned heretics are handed over for their just punishment and the salvation of their immortal souls?

  26. RW

    Google: singular or plural?

    The issue is really just one of the well-known differences between British idiom and American. The Brits often treat collective nouns as plural: "The Beeb have announced..." whereas the Yanks generally treat them in the singular: "The Beeb has announced..."

    Neither is wrong; it's merely a difference in emphasis, just as some languages deeply embed in their grammar the perceived reliability of a statement.

  27. Nick

    This grammer sh*t...

    is overly puntilious and renders me commatose.

    Over 100 F--no coat necessary.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody good thing

    we didn't tell him about the semi-colon.

  29. Andy

    Be very careful....

    ...when you lets your writers do pieces on other peoples' mistakes ( It means you're kinda asking to be called on any little slips that occur over here!

  30. Andrew Kirch

    "Compleat" is still misspelled on all links to BOFH 94-99

    I mean, seriously, readers, relax, enjoy, The, Register, or, STFU. (Should I have comma's between those too? YOU DECIDE!) I want news, and humor from this site, and I therefore neither expect, nor demand the same careful attention to spelling and punctuation that I would from say the Wall Street Journal (odd that I don't read that rag, and do read this one... ooh well)

  31. Karl Anderson

    Immortal words

    JP is right to be outraged. The great 20th century American philosopher Frank Zappa had the last word:

    "The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe!"

    Lest we forget.

  32. Morely Dotes

    Tits or Tit's?

    This hardly qualifies for FOTW.

    Twats, criticizing a minor punctuation mishap. Now, let one of the El Reg hacks confuse "losers" with "loosers" and I'll show you some flames!

  33. matt

    Real grammar police.

    In some parts of Canada, the possesive usage of apostrophes is banned on signage.

    So, for example, Ben's Restaurant must be called Bens Restaurant.

    It has something to with anglophopia among the French community.

  34. Rhys

    @ andrew

    " "Compleat" is still misspelled on all links to BOFH 94-99 "

    Compleat is used a fair bit amoungst the literati, Check out Thewells "The Compleat Angler"

    The meaning is more along the lines of comprehensive than complete, just one of those subtle distinctions the english language abounds with.

  35. El Regular


    Uniformity of language only serves the ease with which it is read. Thus, I want more challenge! expand my braynePowr!

  36. Mark David Johansen D.D., PhD.

    Adobe error meesage

    It's only one line but full of errory goodness from an Adobe Reader 8 fubar:

    "Fatal Error

    Acrobat fail to load it's Core DLL


  37. Oliverh

    Google: singular or plural?

    "By RW

    Posted Friday 27th July 2007 15:58 GMT

    The issue is really just one of the well-known differences between British idiom and American. The Brits often treat collective nouns as plural: "The Beeb have announced..." whereas the Yanks generally treat them in the singular: "The Beeb has announced..."

    Neither is wrong; it's merely a difference in emphasis, just as some languages deeply embed in their grammar the perceived reliability of a statement."

    I don't care if it's singular or plural. It is still not a collective noun! A collective noun is a word that describes a group or collection of other "nouns"! A PRIDE of Lions, a MURDER of crows.

    There is no such thing as a GOOGLE of servers!

    Google is a name, with a capital letter and everything! Therefore a proper noun! There's a simple test! You can't use it in Scrabble!

  38. matt


    Haven't you heard of a 'google of geese'?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Haven't you heard of a 'google of geese'?"

    No, but I've heard of a gaggle of geese..

  40. uffe

    The friendly guide

    Bob the angry flower has it down to an art...

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