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punctuation geeks - almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea
if I had to explain, you wouldn't understand
dakegra
dakegra
punctuation geeks
Oh, the apostrophe thing in my previous post - someone linked to this apostrophe test on twitter last night. I took issue with one of the questions



You have to select *one* option as the correct answer. Go for it.

Question 10:
a) The Roman's bridges and roads were vital for moving the troops' supplies.
b) The Romans' bridges and roads were vital for moving the troops' supplies.
c) The Romans' bridges and roads were vital for moving the troop's supplies.
d) The Romans bridge's and road's were vital for moving the troops supplies.

Which did you go for? Here's my reasoning:

a) works, if you're talking about one specific Roman, and if he built (or was responsible for building) the bridges and roads being used by the many troops.
b) works, if you have lots of Romans and lots of troops. This is the 'correct' answer.
c) also works (imho), if you're talking about one *specific* troop.
d) is an offence against punctuation, and should never be spoken of in polite company.

thoughts, comments, rants welcomed.

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Comments
ayoub From: ayoub Date: November 24th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC) (linky)
Option b would be more correct if it was:

The Romans' bridges and roads were vital for moving troops' supplies.

The the (hey, remember them?) before troops' implies a single troop in motion, and moves it into a grey area.

Edited at 2010-11-24 10:35 pm (UTC)
dakegra From: dakegra Date: November 24th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) (linky)
ooh, I don't know about that. Surely you can say "the troops" and mean more than one?
ayoub From: ayoub Date: November 24th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC) (linky)
It makes it ambiguous in that sentence structure.

The troop's or the troops' at the beginning of the sentense is fine (as in the Romans'), but adding it again later on can separate the plural from a singular option, for correct sentence structure...

Oh, and I get a headache just looking at the last one!

Edited at 2010-11-24 10:40 pm (UTC)
miss_t_ide From: miss_t_ide Date: November 25th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC) (linky)
I'm going to disagree with you. We talk about "the troops", rather than just "troops", in order to identify them with the particular nation or set of nations. If we're talking about a single troop then we would probably say "a troop". Removing the the from that sentence makes it less clear that we're talking about the Romans' own troops, rather than troops in general.
ayoub From: ayoub Date: November 25th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC) (linky)
You might be right :)
redatt From: redatt Date: November 24th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC) (linky)
They are all okay except the last one which is just bad and wrong.

So there.
chiller From: chiller Date: November 24th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC) (linky)
Hm. I got all of these correct.

These sentences are worded very carefully to indicate whether the subject/object of the sentence is singular or plural, so bearing that in mind I would have expected them to have used "this [or that] troop's" if they intended the word to be singular.

A is correct if we are talking about one (very busy) Roman, and C would be correct, if we were sure that "the" in that sentence referred to a single troop. But the sentences just weren't that sloppily worded.
miss_t_ide From: miss_t_ide Date: November 25th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC) (linky)
I agree!
magda_vogelsang From: magda_vogelsang Date: November 24th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC) (linky)
Your assessment is correct, though I made the correct assumptions as to what they had in mind and picked b.

In fact, I took the test and got them all right. But I suspect this doesn't surprise you.

Annoyingly, I do sometime find myself typing a ' before an s at the end of the word on autopilot when it doesn't belong there, but that's a typo rather than something I've done on purpose (my fingers made me do it).
maryrcrumpton From: maryrcrumpton Date: November 25th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC) (linky)
I agree with your analysis :-)

Mary x
10 thoughts or leave a thought