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A Word, Please: Losing the apostrophe isn't always an option

March 01, 2013|By June Casagrande

Further complicating matters: Style guides sometimes disagree with dictionaries and each other. So in a publication that defers to a style guide, as most newspapers do, you may see Presidents Day with no apostrophe. But in books, which usually follow a different style guide, you'll probably see Presidents' Day with an apostrophe.

So how then did I answer Mary's question about Founders/Founders' Day? With a loud and resounding "I don't know."

All my attempts to come up with a clear answer failed. First I checked Webster's New World College Dictionary, which is the default dictionary for many newspaper publishers. No listing. Then I checked Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, which is the choice of book publishers. Nothing. I checked the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, neither had it. I even checked two usage guides, Garner's Modern American Usage and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. None of them had a word to say about it.

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With no expert referee to make the call, all I could do was revert back to the less-reliable standard of simple logic. "I would go ahead and make an executive decision," I wrote to Mary. "Personally, I prefer Founders' Day."

That was her preference too.

JUNE CASAGRANDE is author of "It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences." She can be reached at JuneTCN@aol.com.

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