March 18th, 2009
Apostrophes with plurals / loose and lose
by Barbara Wallraff
Leslie Moore, of Kingston, Ontario, writes: “A common practice that is driving me crazy is inserting an apostrophe when making a word plural. There’s an ad on TV for a new food show called ‘Road-Tasted with the Neely’s.’ The Neely’s what? A lot of people must have seen that before it went to air, and none of them caught it. Are we losing this battle?”
Dear Leslie: Don’t give up yet! All the language authorities are still on our side. (In fact, even the Food Network, which airs “Road-Tasted,” is on our side: It spells the name “Neelys.” Your objection must have to do with something that originated with a local station.)
Jane Thomas, of Northville, Mich., writes: “I see the word ‘loose’ written to mean ‘lose’ almost everywhere these days. It’s irritating because the words have totally different meanings. I think it’s good to maintain a lexicon that can distinguish different ideas rather than having a few words stand for many meanings. However, it may be that with so many people employing this usage, the misspelling ‘loose’ will turn into a word that means ‘lose.’ What do you think?”
Dear Jane: I see that mistake too, and I wonder about it. Doesn’t it make more sense if “loose” rhymes with “goose,” “noose” and “caboose”? And “lose” rhymes with ... well, come to think of it, the word rhymes with “booze,” “cues,” “ewes,” “moos,” “news,” “use” and “views,” just to give examples that are all spelled differently. That may be one reason people have trouble remembering how to spell “lose.”
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