The Anonymous Widower

Missing Apostrophes

There has been a lot of talk lately about missing apostrophes.  One guy in Royal Tunbridge Wells has gone as far as painting them in where he lives.  It provokes this piece in the Telegraph, from the wonderfully named Harry de Quetteville.

But leaving punctuation out of road signs is not new.  Look at this one from Ipswich, which has been there for some years.

St. George's Street, Ipswich

St. George’s Street, Ipswich

This sign is actually a lot newer than the one at the other end of the road, which was one of the old-fashioned cast ones.

My father was always hot on punctuation.  But then he was a printer and was always having arguments with customers about it.  Although not specifically punctuation, the thing that really got his goat was when to use the plural form of verbs.

So which is correct.

The Chairman and the Board of Directors request your pleasure at the opening of their new factory.


The Chairman and the Board of Directors requests your pleasure at the opening of their new factory.

You can argue that in the first, there are more than one of them, so it’s request, but in the second they are a single entity, so it’s request.

Do we have a pedant out there, who can tell me what is correct?

In addition I am a stickler for layout.  Nothing annoys me more than when I get a document or read a web page, which is poorly laid out.  My father was the same.

There is no excuse for bad design.

August 19, 2009 - Posted by | Design, World | ,


  1. It’s request.
    The Chairman and Board of Directors are two separate subjects, even though they are linked.
    I can see where you’re coming from on the second one, but you wouldn’t say “Mr and Mrs Bloggs requests”, even though they can technically be regarded as a single entity – a married couple.
    (And I’m ignoring your deliberate mistake in the two sample sentences!!)

    Comment by J-in-Wales | August 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. I’ve fixed the mistake. You’ve hit the nail on the head though. My father actually wrote to the Oxford English Dictionary for clarification and what he got said that about eighty percent of people got it wrong.

    But I can’t remember the answer.

    Comment by AnonW | August 19, 2009 | Reply

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