Ask Me a Question

If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.

Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!

If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Criminal Sentence 12: The Sport of Finding Missing Apostrophes

Today, my newspaper's Sports section displays a lack of much-needed apostrophes. I read just two articles, one on basketball and one on baseball.

Basketball headline: Suns door all but closed to D'Antoni
Baseball headline: Diamondbacks relievers getting job done

Within these articles: Suns management
Diamondbacks starter Randy Johnson

In all of these cases, I believe there should be an apostrophe at the end: Suns' door, Diamondbacks' relievers, etc. The question here is if "Suns" and "Diamondbacks" are nouns or adjectives. In the sentence "The Diamondbacks won," Diamondbacks is a noun. In the sentence "The Diamondbacks' win was expected," it is an adjective. Therefore, you need an apostrophe. One way I use to check my apostrophes is to temporarily use an "of": "management of the Suns" (Suns' management). "Pet of the teacher" (teacher's pet).

It can't be a coincidence that the writers left out so many apostrophes. Perhaps they're doing it on purpose. I'm going to ask the editor of the Sports section why. If he answers, I'll let you know his response.

A few hours later...
Well, the Sports editor was kind enough to answer. It's AP style not to use an apostrophe in a phrase like "the Diamondbacks reliever." Doesn't mean I like it, though.


donna said...

If it's AP style, guess they do that all the time in the Sports Section then?
I would think that would be training people to use apostrophes incorrectly. In my own experience, reading teaches me the way things are "supposed to look" grammar-wise. Wonder why AP would not want apostrophes used?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yes, I think the whole newspaper follows that protocol. I agree with you that it seems to be training people to use apostrophes incorrectly. I don't know why they do it, but I guess little people like us can't change their minds!