Poll: Do you use an apostrophe in plural dates?

Do you use an apostrophe in plural dates?


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This Poll:

  • Votes: 5,593
  • Comments: 30
  • Added: September 2003


Karen Skullerud

According to the current MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, fifth edition, 2.2.7, "Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural abbreviation or a number."


I can't see any need to do so either.


There is a case for using it with single letters to breaks them up:

Mind you p's and q's.
However, you could also say:

Mind your Ps and Qs.



I believe that this mistake started when people abbreviated the decade. I can see '70s accidentally becoming the dreadful, evil, incorrect apostrophe way in a heart beat! Thank God that our correct side is winning this battle!


In the UK, the correct side are losing everywhere in the apostrophe war's. <gggg>




Not sure if the apostrophe should be used, but it looks ok! My English isn't as you can tell; need to improve it in all areas


hi everybody :)
Actualy I'm learning english so (GOOD LUCK FOR MY SELF)
I have question about this vote so I did 1970's it's wrong answer?


Caleb Talati

In the "Penguin Guide to Punctuation"(1997), I read that the apostrophe is not needed for forming the dates of plurals in British English. However, according to the author, it is needed in American English. I find it easy writing both "1970s" and "1970's".


The apostrophe, to me, is simply wrong.

It's nineties, not ninety's. We'd use an apostrophe to denote something belonging to 1990. The decade is simply a set of years, so it is "1990s".

Gus Payne

This is fairly straight forward: No apostrophe. We say the "seventies" not the "seventy's". The mistake I keep making is "it's" (possessive) instead of "its". E.G: "it's leg" is incorrect, while "the dog's leg" is correct. What's so special about the word "it" for us to drop the possessive apostrophe? Okay I know there's ambiguity about mixing it up with "it is", but still...

Ken Masters

There's no reason to use an apostrophe. It doesn't indicate a contraction, neither does it indicate a possessive. It's a plural, and there's no apostrophe in a plural, surely.


Apostrophes are used in two--and only two situations: Possessive nouns (not pronouns) and contractions.

Any other use is nonsensical.


W/R/T why "its" is special as a possessive without an apostrophe--

"Its" isn't special. It is one of several possessive PRONOUNS, none of which have apostrophes in English: Mine, yours, ours, theirs, its.

IOW, "Its" is not an exception, it's the rule.


Writing texts going back decades (centuries?) say to use 's when making numbers (8's), letters (A's, p's & q's), symbols (&'s), and "non-nouns" used as nouns (if's, and's, or but's). The 70's or the 1970's is still a number. It has nothing to do with "seventies" or "seventy's."
You can write it however you want, but you can't say someone is wrong for writing 1970's. There's no Academie Anglais to make such decisions.

As far as the "its" that someone mentioned earlier, that is a possessive form of the pronoun "it." You don't use an apostrophe for the same reason you don't use one with "hers," "ours," "theirs," or "yours": it's already possessive.


This is entirely of a stylistic concern. Although pluralizing a date without the use of an apostrophe is most pleasing to MY own logic and senses, there is absolutely no definitive answer to this question.

Doug Bott


Easiest way to remember is to write the word in letters. eg. seventies as opposed to 70s. you would not put an apostrophe in the word seventies so it does not belong in 70s either.


The matter is simple. Based on the rule of word contraction, like in "aren't" for "are not" or "int'l" for "international", the apostrophe replaces one or more subtracted letters, which means the decades can be written as either "the 1920s" or "the '20s", where the apostrophe is used to show the subtraction of the "19" prefix.


I'm cofused in


the article has in its 6th paragraph 1960s (before contiguous USA) and then in the 8th paragraph it has 1940's. What's the difference?


No difference, Nana, but it would be better to stick to one form in a text.


What if you are talking about something that only that specific decade had? As in certain types of music, etc? For instance, "the 1970's music industry.." as opposed to the industry in earlier or later decades. It almost seems like a possessive in that case.

Alan Arthur Katz

You never, ever use an apostrophe to make a plural, including decades and dates. It's always 1950s not 1950's.

However, there are times when a date or decade is possessive, in which case it take an apostrophe:
The 1950s' culture demanded that...
But not:
The culture of the 1950s demanded that...
or even a singular possessive date: 1950's best event was....

Hope this sheds some light.


"As far as the "its" that someone mentioned earlier, that is a possessive form of the pronoun "it." You don't use an apostrophe for the same reason you don't use one with "hers," "ours," "theirs," or "yours": it's already possessive." May I say, an excellent explanation. As for the person who said "... none of which have apostrophes in English..." - isn't it none of which has, because none means 'not one'? LOL!

Walter Fraser

This is what, these days, is called a "no-brainer". Placing an apostrophe after the decade (e.g., 1990's) puts it in a possessive context. Unless you are referring to an event or object belonging to the 1990s (e.g., a 1990's band), the apostrophe should not be used. The correct way to refer to a decade is, e.g., the 1990s or (abbreviated) the '90s NOT the 1990's or the 90's. It is appalling how many times this instance of incorrect grammar appears. Even the automatic spelling & grammar checker on internet media like Facebook and your e-mail provider will try to tell you to use the incorrect way to present decades. It really gets my goat! It's about time the programmers, editors, etc., were given a huge kick up the backside about this crap scholarship.NOTE THAT THE AUTOMATIC SPELLING/GRAMMAR CHECK ON THIS SITE IS POINTING OUT THAT MY CORRECTLY PRESENTED FORMAT OF THE DECADE IS WRONG. Aaaaarrrrgggghhh!!!!!!


I recently started technical writing and after a life of agreeing with the anti-apotrophe vote, now find myself really being forced to use the 'aberrant' apostrophe. After a bit of research it's clear that no matter how determined folk are to the contrary, historically it was '1970's'. It's not the recent-times inability to use an apostrophe correctly that drives us pedants mad. Additionally, what about plurals of TLA's? 'TLAs' looks bizarre and should surely have the apostrophe, deserved or not.


Mr Fraser,
That's your browser making the "corrections" and not our site.


I understand why it is apparent there is no appostrophe (in 1990s); but think of this, when we say 'mind your p's and q's' then there is an apostrophe, so it is the fact that there is no misunderstanding that I believe the appostrophe is included. So that 1990s cannot be confused with 19905 for example

Brian Joyce

Cars, animals, days, years. So why not 1970s.

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