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  1. Tennet
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    #1

    Question Help with apostrophes in labels

    There is a debate regarding the use of apostrophes in labels. Specifically, the term "File Operations Status".

    One side is arguing that the word "Operations" requires an apostrophe because it is possessive in regards to the word "Status".

    The other side argues that it does not require an apostrophe because the way it is used as part of a label, it does not indicate possessiveness in the same way you would in a prose sentence.

    For example, clearly in a sentence you would be referring to "a file operation's status" or "the file operations' status". But as a label, you're simply indicating the status of "file operations" in general.


    This latter argument (with no apostrophe) is in high use (searching for "operations status" will yield many such results), and it is what I believe is correct.

    However, what are the formal rules that allow it to be correct?

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Help with apostrophes in labels

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennet View Post
    There is a debate regarding the use of apostrophes in labels. Specifically, the term "File Operations Status".

    One side is arguing that the word "Operations" requires an apostrophe because it is possessive in regards to the word "Status".

    The other side argues that it does not require an apostrophe because the way it is used as part of a label, it does not indicate possessiveness in the same way you would in a prose sentence.

    For example, clearly in a sentence you would be referring to "a file operation's status" or "the file operations' status". But as a label, you're simply indicating the status of "file operations" in general.


    This latter argument (with no apostrophe) is in high use (searching for "operations status" will yield many such results), and it is what I believe is correct.

    However, what are the formal rules that allow it to be correct?
    You don't need an apostrophe; in fact, I think it would be wrong.
    You are not referring to the status of each file operation ('file operation's status'), nor are you referring to status of several file operations (file operations' status).
    You are referring to the overall status of some function you've labelled as "file operations".

    Consider the following:
    "What is your job status?" This is OK, but some people have a few jobs, so "What is your jobs status?".
    The question is not asking about the status of any job. It's asking about the status of one aspect of your life, labelled "jobs". Basically it means "Do you have a job? etc.", not "Do you have a rewarding, well-paying job?" - ie. the status of the job/s.

    In any case, I think you (or your colleagues) or being confused by the "s" on operations. The same argument should apply to singular nouns. But you say "What is the "free memory status" of your computer at the moment, not "What is the "free memory's status".
    You say "What is the battery status?", not "What is the battery's status". You could say the latter, but it's not necessary.

    Since there's no need to use a possessive on these singular concepts, there should be no need for it just because you have labelled a concept as being plural. It's a red herring.

  3. Tennet's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: Help with apostrophes in labels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post

    Since there's no need to use a possessive on these singular concepts, there should be no need for it just because you have labelled a concept as being plural. It's a red herring.

    I agree with you, but those reasons are apparently not enough to convince the other party.

    They replied, in part:

    ------------------------------

    What you are trying to do is to convert a plural noun (operations) into a singular form by referring to it as a general concept (file operations) to sidestep a rule of English punctuation. As "operation" is a countable noun, it is wrong to convert it from plural to singular without making appropriate spelling/punctuation changes. I have cited the BBC who have said "If you are using a regular plural noun ending in s, you simply add an apostrophe ():" and Oxford who said "An apostrophe is used to indicate possession with a plural already ending with s".

    ------------------------------


    One obvious example where you and I are proven right is "the jobs market". But what specific rules of English allow this to occur?

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Help with apostrophes in labels

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennet View Post
    I agree with you, but those reasons are apparently not enough to convince the other party.

    They replied, in part:

    ------------------------------

    What you are trying to do is to convert a plural noun (operations) into a singular form by referring to it as a general concept (file operations) to sidestep a rule of English punctuation. As "operation" is a countable noun, it is wrong to convert it from plural to singular without making appropriate spelling/punctuation changes. I have cited the BBC who have said "If you are using a regular plural noun ending in s, you simply add an apostrophe ():" and Oxford who said "An apostrophe is used to indicate possession with a plural already ending with s".

    ------------------------------


    One obvious example where you and I are proven right is "the jobs market". But what specific rules of English allow this to occur?
    The response you've quoted is irrelevant. It doesn't make a difference whether the word is singular or plural.
    That is, if "Operations' status" is correct for plural, then "Operation's" status is correct for singular. The argument doesn't rely on the word being singular or plural.
    Both the BBC and Oxford quotes are also irrelevant, because they are addressing the formation of a possessive. Here, "File Operations status" is not possessive.

    This was all dealt with in my first post, though. If this is the intellectual level of your colleagues, you might not be able to convince them.
    The main argument here is whether "File Operations status" is possessive. If it's not - which is my point - then no apostrophes are necessary. Any grammar book will show, if only by implication, that if something is not possessive, it doesn't require an apostrophe. The grammatical basis is that "File Operations status" is a compound noun, not a possessive.

    Given that number (singular or plural) is not relevant, how do your colleagues respond to:
    "What's your job status?"
    "There's a new nightclub open. I wonder what the chick status is."
    "I'm worried about my health status."

    To be consistent, your colleagues would have to argue that all of these require apostrophes.

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