Attributives and apostrophes
I couldn’t for the life of me remember the term ‘attributive noun’ when I needed it today, so I did some searching around on the internet to see if I could come across it. I eventually found it by searching for something like ‘noun as adjective’. [An attributive noun is one which modifies another noun, but can be taken out of the noun phrase without affecting it too much, e.g. ‘lab’ in the term ‘lab coat’.]
While I was searching, I found a Telegraph article that claims that nearly half of Britons can’t use apostrophes correctly. I am at once shocked but unsurprised.
The apostrophe has emerged in an independent poll of nearly 2,000 people as the punctuation mark that causes the most problems. Nearly half of UK adults tested were unable to use it properly.
The most common mistake was not knowing how to punctuate a possessive plural.
Nearly half (46 per cent) of those that sat the test thought that, in the context set, “people’s choice” was wrong – whereas it is, of course, correct.
Regionally, Londoners were the most likely to use apostrophes correctly, and age-wise, it was the 25-34 year olds that came out on top.
Note: There’s a self-test at the bottom of the article, and besides the fact that they didn’t put any full stops in the sentences (the horror!), I disagree with their first conclusion. They said that “These are Charlotte Brooks’ books” is correct, but certain style guides would advocate “These are Charlotte Brooks’s books”. I wonder how many people got this one ‘wrong’?