A Gentle Blend of Communication Expressway
An email list I belong to recently discussed dictionaries. One knowledgeable member said, "Unfortunately, work on Webster's Fourth is just beginning. That leaves Merriam-Webster's competitors, and fortunately their new editions are excellent. There is no recent Random House Webster: the 2006 is basically just a reprint of the 1993 with a new-words appendix. So I'd get the American Heritage Dictionary, 5th edition (2011) and the New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd edition (2010). In my experience, their strengths and weaknesses are complementary: AHD is unsurpassed on etymology, whereas NOAD is supreme for coverage."
Grammar Tip #1 & 2:
I'm combining the two tips in order to address a popular issue: plurals of family names. My long-time friend Jackie Loos asked how her last name should be used on a sign. First, it depends on the sign, which may have a template. Let's use my name. It could say The Vorfelds - The Vorfelds' Place/Home - The Vorfeld Home. But it never says "The Vorfeld's." Why? That apostrophe "s" is used only for possessives. And "The Vorfelds" is plural. Most signs don't have room for "family" or "home," so people often have to make do with just the name.
Professor Charles Darling (http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm) says, "When a family name (a proper noun) is pluralized, we almost always simply add an "s." So we go to visit the Smiths, the Kennedys, the Grays, etc. When a family name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, however, we form the plural by added -es, as in the Marches, the Joneses, the Maddoxes, the Bushes, the Rodriguezes. Do not form a family name plural by using an apostrophe; that device is reserved for creating possessive forms."
As Professor Darling states, along with the best style guides, there are always exceptions. Since "Loos" ends in an "s," it would seem logical to say "The Looses," but somehow that doesn't seem to work, so I recommended "The Loos." Best would be "The Loos Family" or "The Loos Home."
If you have issues with plural last names, especially those ending in "s," let me know how you solved your problem. And if you think I made a mistake with "Loos," click "Reply" and tell me why. I'm not through learning just yet.
Business Email Tip
List of Salutations Part 1
One person w/name, gender, & personal title preference known
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