Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Apostrophes and initialisms

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Underside of a DVD-R disc, modified to have tr...
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Why do people add apostrophes to plural initialisms? You see it everywhere. Here’s a prime example from Easylife’s Catalogue of Household Goods That You’ll Never Buy (it’s not really called that):

…Movie Wizard editing software lets you add titles and music to make professional-looking DVD’s in minutes.

Now – an initialism is a word made up of the first letter of a number of other words. So, ‘DVD’ is made up from ‘digital versatile disc/k’. Initialisms are often capitalised, though not always. The point is – if you want to talk about more than one DVD you just bang an s on the end:

I have three DVDs.

..professional-looking DVDs in minutes.

Brain surgery it ain’t. You don’t need an apostrophe. Not for DVDs, not for any plural initialisms.

BUT – there’s always a but. If you want, for example, to talk about something that belongs to a DVD, your possessive apostrophe comes into play:

The DVD’s cover is torn.

Find out more about the possessive apostrophe

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Written by Wordwatch

05/11/2009 at 9:34 am

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