Possessive versus Plural





I’ve noticed lately that new authors and some older authors who should know better have moved from using the apostrophe to show possession and are making their words plural. Sure, it’s easier for the person typing the story to do this. They don’t have to worry about those pesky rules regarding apostrophes, but there is a major problem with this.

Without an apostrophe in your work, you have inserted a plural word into a sentence. Your book now makes no sense. Readers will go over your work and wonder what in the world you’re talking about.

If you have a question whether a word is possessive or not, you have several options. The first is to ensure your grammar checker is set to “mark grammar as you type.” This will allow a blue line to appear under a word that is used incorrectly. An easy hover the mouse over the word and right click will show you the error. Or you can search the internet for the innumerable bloggers who write about this problem. Some of these blogs offer tests right there in the post, so you can learn when to use the plural and when to use the possessive.

Another way to figure out whether your word is plural or possessive is to subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). This grammar book is the Cadillac of grammar rules and is used by most publishers and professional editors when they are editing a book.

Speaking of editing, if you aren’t sure about these possessive versus plural instances, you need to ask a trusted beta reader to assist you with identifying the problem. Or you can join a critique group and request their assistance. The beta reader will probably get back to you faster than a critique group, which often requires that you only submit one chapter a week or month, and you must in turn critique the chapters of other members.

What you, the author, must remember is that before you send a book to your publisher, whether it’s the first time you’ve contacted this publisher or you’re a returning author, is that you need to put your best foot forward. Even the best authors make mistakes, but one that the submissions reader sees over and over in a manuscript can have you receiving a “thank you for submitting but we feel this book isn’t right for us” response.



About the K.C. Sprayberry

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.

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