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    • Join Date: Jan 2006
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    #1

    to use an apostrophe or not??

    Ok

    this could be the million dollar question..... and it is causing quite a debate between two people I know.... one is british and one is american... I am not sure if this makes a difference.

    ok so

    the United Nations Headquarters

    the United Nations' Headquarters

    as you can see... these are the two ways my friends feel this should be written. I am with the first one, as to me, the United Nations is an entity, on thing, there is only one United Nations and some consider them to have one headquarters, but several offices/branches around the world.....

    so any ideas???

    smiles

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    #2

    Re: to use an apostrophe or not??

    While the apostrophe is correct to show possession, and the headquarters do belong to the UN, generally we'd write it without. If you look here http://www.un.org/english/, you'll see that they write United Nations News Centre without the apostrophe.


    • Join Date: Jan 2006
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    #3

    Re: to use an apostrophe or not??

    thanks for that but i have a few more questions....

    I pointed out to my colleage that the UN website does not use the apostrophe so we shouldn't but her comment was - we should be teaching correct grammar.

    so my next question is this....

    our students are being taught....

    the girl's father = singular
    the girls' father = plural

    so if the students then see the United Nations' Headquarters - will they not think that this indicates plural??

    i also found on the internet a site that said - for singular nouns that end in s - (and I think of United Nations as a singular noun - because it is like the name of a company/organization) then 's is used to show possesion, but that sometimes s' is use for ease of pronnunciation....

    so how exactly should i explain this to my students (they are not high level)

    your help is appreciated

    smiles

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    #4

    Re: to use an apostrophe or not??

    I disagree with your friend's comment about correct grammar- I don't see anything incorrect in using it without the apostrophe. Nouns can modify nouns, so there's really nothing wrong with it at all.

    The issue of whether to put -'s after a nouns ending in -s is a mixed area. Some say add it when you would say it- in this example, I wouldn't add a syllable on, so leaving the final s off seems perfectly logical. With names, some say that foreign names and surnames should have the -s, which raises further questions about what to do with saints, where the first name is their onlyname used, etc. I think that with lower level students, it will be difficult to explain, but then there are differences among native speakers and in Japan, will they have any idea whether we say Nations' as two or three syllables?

    If people see United Nations', many will think it is plural, but then what will the make of these:
    people's
    peoples'
    But then, can you have the United Nation?
    For simplicity's sake, I think I'd go for the 'if you say it, write it' rule as the simplest.

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