Grammar Embarrassment

Yesterday, I went to a family barbecue out of state. My mom was there, and, unsurprisingly, she had her copy of my story in the paper and was showing it to everyone there within minutes of arrival.

Because of that, everyone was trying to get me to look for errors all day — and you can only do so much while at a barbecue out in the country! Pesonally, I didn’t want to do anything until three family members came to me with a sign:

The owner of the sign told me to use it on the blog but didn’t want to be identified further than her last name (as long as it was on a picture and therefore unsearchable). I will tell you, however, that she has a Ph.D in one of the social sciences and is (or at least was at some time) a professor at a prominent university in the northeast.

“My husband’s family got this for us when we moved to our new house,” she told me. “I can’t stand it! It’s EMBARRASSING! That apostrophe?! Every now and then, he asks me why I haven’t put it up yet, and the only times I want it out are when his family comes over!”

So, what are the grammar rules when it comes to last names?

If it’s meant to mean the house belonging to Fisher, then it’s correct. But there are multiple Fishers in this residence. Fishers’ House?

Or The Fishers?

I think that “The Fishers” was the intent, and for that reason, there should be no apostrophe.

Good luck coming up with more excuses for your husband! ๐Ÿ™‚


Also, I’m not sure how many of you have been reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but this is the first time that I’ve read it with a Grammar Vandal’s eye. I’ve noticed that the British tend to use many more commas than we do, but Rowling actually doesn’t use them nearly as much. At any rate, I can’t wait to get back to reading it! I’m about halfway through.


5 responses to “Grammar Embarrassment

  1. Hi Kate,

    Ms. Rawling’s has an American editor – for the American edition.

  2. My wife’s co-workers got us a brass knocker for our front door that read “Bingham’s” for our new home. Sigh. That was about a year and a half ago and we still don’t know what to do with it. The previous owners’ door knocker is still on the door with their name on it, written grammatically correct.

  3. Hi Kate,

    So far I love your blog. I’m an editor in Portland, OR, and also a highly uptight individual. ๐Ÿ™‚ Whenever I see those horrid apostrophes, it makes my skin crawl! (Maybe I should have written apostrophe’s.) Another horror: When people write things like the last name Rogers as “From, the Rogers’.”

  4. Obviously the sign is an expression of territorial exclusivity, but simultaneously affecting an obvious parallelism. All the animals portrayed are indeed potential โ€œfishermenโ€. Editorial license withstanding.

  5. Hi Kate,

    My favorite example of embarrasingly bad grammar was a wedding gift we received from some friends of my husband’s parents. All issues of buying or not buying from the bridal registry aside, the gift was a green, plaid cooler bag with a fleece blanket inside. Embroidered on the blanket was “The Turner’s.”

    To add insult to injury, our last name is Thomas! ๐Ÿ™‚ We laughed so hard that we fell off the couch. (No one was there when we opened the gift, by the way.)

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