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Should You Use an Apostrophe in a Plural Acronym or Decade? The Answer is Revealed!

As an editor, it’s my job to seek out and find grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes and bring the chaos to an end. I do not claim to be the Grammar Police. This blog post is probably riddled with mistakes that would make a newspaper editor cry. I do, however, cringe when I see written word that is blatantly botched.

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I was raised on the AP Style Guide; a go-to of sorts for the nerdiest of grammar cops.

One thing that drives me up a wall but is commonplace in today’s society is the mistake of using an apostrophe in a plural acronym. For example, Luke Bryan is going to release a statement about the ACM’s tomorrow.” The ACMs are not owning or possessing “tomorrow,” so why the apostrophe?

This also applies to decades, as well. For example, “The 1980s were a crazy time for fashion.” or “The ‘80s were a crazy time for fashion.”

According to my beloved AP Style Guide:

  • To form a plural of a single letter, use s and an apostrophe: “All the B’s lined up to the right.” To form a plural of multiple letters, add s with no apostrophe: “She mastered her ABCs in little time.”
  • To form the plural of words made out of a group of letters, add the letter s: CDs, ABCs, TVs.
  • Add an s but no apostrophe to a number to make it plural: “She kept rolling 7s.” The same rule applies to decades: the 1980s. Use an apostrophe on a decade only if cutting off the initial figures: the ’80s.

So, there you have it. Mind your P’s and Q’s and we’ll be all good!

 

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