What does Veterans Day have to do with one of the most common grammar mistakes?

What do apostrophes have to do with this federal holiday? Well, there’s a confusing apostrophe in Veterans’ Day—or is there? Veterans Day is often incorrectly written as “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day.”

“Veteran’s Day” would definitely be incorrect because it means a day for only one veteran. While “Veterans’ Day” does encompass multiple veterans, that spelling is incorrect according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (also without an apostrophe). In the name of the holiday, the word “veterans” acts as an attributive noun, which means that it behaves like an adjective even though it is a noun. We use attributive nouns all the time without realizing it. For example, if you said “Last week, I went to the Cowboys game”, it is not grammatically imperative to include an apostrophe at the end of Cowboys, because Cowboys acts as an attributive noun.

(To resolve another confusing clause, learn whether daylight-saving time or daylight savings time is correct here.)

Apostrophes pop up where you least expect them, and their misuse distorts meaning and clarity. They are tricky little punctuation marks with multiple uses. Unlike commas and periods, they can actually take the place of letters (when used in contractions), and they also reveal the relationships between different parts of a clause when they make a noun possessive. Contractions—like they’ve, what’s, and she’ll—are almost as old as the English language. They reflect how we combine syllables in natural speech, and they are observed in written language as far back as Old English. In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, thou art is spelled thart. Shakespeare also used them frequently in order to adhere to the meter of his plays. The antiquated word ’tis is a contraction of it and is; the first sound is removed instead of the middle syllable as is common today in the contraction it’s.

How about that other confusing apostrophe question—what’s with it’s and its? This is one of the most common grammatical errors seen throughout the English-speaking world. One means it is or it has and the other “belonging to it,” but which is which? In modern English, we use ‘s to signify possession because of the Old English grammar that added an s to display the genitive case, or the “of relationship.” Instead of saying, “That is the house of Jack,” with ‘s you only have to say, “That is Jack’s house.” You might assume, then, that it’s means “belonging to it.” However, its is not a possessive like “Jack’s house,” but rather a possessive pronoun (like hers, theirs, and ours) that does not require an apostrophe. So if you want to say “the pages of that book,” you say “its pages.” And as we’ve discussed, its brother it’s is a contraction that combines it with is or has as in “It’s been a long day’s night.”

Do you confuse it’s and its? What do you think of apostrophes?

Wisconsin briefs

Telegraph – Herald (Dubuque) November 2, 2007 | The Associated Press $40 million donated to college program MADISON – A $40 million donation announced Thursday will help low- income Wisconsin students attend college if they meet academic and service requirements during high school. website great lakes higher education

The gift from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, a leader in the student loan industry, gives a major financial boost to the Wisconsin Covenant program.

The program asks eighth-graders to promise to earn a B average in high school, take courses to prepare for college, stay out of trouble and perform community service work. In return, the state promises them a spot at one of its universities or technical colleges and a financial aid package based on their family’s needs.

More than 17,000 current ninth-graders signed the pledge for the first time before a deadline in September.

Police identify dead bank robbery suspect STILLWATER, Minn. – The bank robbery suspect who police say shot and killed himself in the parking lot of a Stillwater hospital was identified Thursday as a North Dakota man who also is suspected of robbing another bank, police said.

Alfred Josiah Knodle, 53, of Fargo, N.D., died of a self- inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a police chase Wednesday, authorities said.

Stabbing fatality heading to court WAUSAU – A 19-year-old man was bound over for trial Thursday in a fatal stabbing last month at Schofield. go to website great lakes higher education

Judge Timothy Vocke found there is enough evidence for Devin Felix, of Wausau, to stand trial in Marathon County Circuit Court for first-degree intentional homicide in Sept. 8 death of Nathanial Davids, 18.

No date was immediately set for the trial.

Teacher reprimanded MADISON – A teacher who protested the federal No Child Left Behind law by refusing to administer a standardized test learned Thursday he will be disciplined for his actions.

Middle school teacher David Wasserman said district officials told him he will get a letter of reprimand in his personnel file for insubordination. And they warned he would be fired if he carried out another protest.

Wasserman sat in the teacher’s lounge on Tuesday rather than give his students the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam. Other teachers gave his students the exam.

Wasserman said he believes the tests are a poor way to judge students and are used to unfairly punish schools.

The Associated Press

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