Every morning, on my way to work, I pass Tina’s Carryout. Beneath the title sign, the following words are painted on the building: “Downtown Business’s Delivery’s.” I nearly have an apoplexy when I see it.
I’m a word and grammar nut. I don’t claim to have flawless grammar myself (for instance, I have a tendency to end sentences with prepositions and I still confuse “lay” and “lie”), but the obvious mistakes make me crazy. It’s easy to excuse grammar errors in emails, notes, and even blog entries. However, I am far less forgiving when it comes to the business setting.
For example, in the changing rooms at the gym, the following sign hangs inside the changing room: “Please use the changing room to change cloths only.” While my clothes are made of cloth, I still believe that the “e” is necessary. I cannot count the number of times I have seen “affect” and “effect” misused on signs posted within places of business. However, it seems to be the apostrophes and plurals that confuse people the most often.
I find the misuse of apostrophes and plurals particularly vexing because I know that it is covered in every grade school curriculum. Additionally, we see them in use dozens of time each day. Yet, I still see signs, professionally painted signs, in which they are used incorrectly. I have a simple solution. If you don’t know where to use another “s” or an apostrophe or both, avoid the situation.
If you don’t know if it should be the “Barristers’ Ball” or “Barrister’s Ball,” call it the “Barrister Ball.” The meaning is still clear. Completely avoid the contraction of “it” and “is.” Then you just have to worry about the possessive of “it.” My advice for Tina’s Carryout: change the sign to “Downtown Delivery.”