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Why doesn't yours get an apostrophe?

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Why don't hers, yours, theirs get apostrophes? Why? Why? Why?

And what about, 'In a year's time' or 'In a years time'??? I always use the former, because I figured the time belongs to the year... but that's not really that logical. Or is it?
#1 - July 02, 2012, 11:23 AM

jeffman

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The -s is a marker of the genitive (possessive) case. Long ago, the marker was -es. When it stopped being pronounced as a separate syllable, the e was replaced by an apostrophe to signify something had been left out (an idea borrowed from the French). So the apostrophe on year's is correct.

Possessive pronouns are the exception because pronouns just tend to evolve in a different way. In fact, while the -es on nouns was typical of Old English, I understand the -s marker on pronouns evolved in Middle English. Sometimes it was written as -es or even -is, but sometimes not. Tennyson seems to have written their's in "Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854) and I have no idea why.

If moveable type printing hadn't come along when it did, we'd probably have no apostrophes to mark possession at all.
#2 - July 02, 2012, 11:46 AM
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 09:05 AM by Jeff Carney »

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So originally it would have been heres, youres, and theires? Blimey.

I like apostrophes or rather, I like the word. I think it sounds as though it should refer to something else though – a surprising event maybe. It was an apostrophic occasion!
#3 - July 02, 2012, 12:22 PM

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Here is an explanation that cites the OED:

http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2010/09/his-and-hers.html

(The link at the end of this article is interesting too!)
#4 - July 02, 2012, 12:23 PM

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Love that site! They also explain the 'out of the window' 'out the window' issue, something I have never been able to grasp because I couldn't figure out why sometimes the 'of' is dropped here in the US and other times it's not.

Thanks!
#5 - July 02, 2012, 12:42 PM

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I use "yours" "hers" etc to explain the difference between "its" and "it's" (one of my favorite blogs has a guy who writes excellent columns, but he made up a word: its' which makes me crazy!). Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes, so they're the exception to the "possessives always have apostrophes" rule. That is all.
#6 - July 02, 2012, 06:38 PM

So originally it would have been heres, youres, and theires? Blimey.

I like apostrophes or rather, I like the word. I think it sounds as though it should refer to something else though – a surprising event maybe. It was an apostrophic occasion!
I think Jeff actually said the opposite - "es" on words that weren't pronouns - but just s on words that are pronouns, so no apostrophe, because nothing's missing.

Jeff, there are no words for how much I loved your post... :love4:
#7 - July 02, 2012, 08:27 PM
Robin

This is mindboggling -- for instance, "If moveable type printing had come along when it did, we'd probably have no apostrophes to mark possession at all." So it DIDN'T come along when it did, which means it came along when it didn't, which could be almost anytime your's truly chooses, perhaps even in a years time!
#8 - July 02, 2012, 09:25 PM
In Real Life, Tuttle Publishing, Fall 2014

jeffman

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Thanks, LT. I was typing way too fast!
#9 - July 03, 2012, 09:12 AM

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