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Apostrophes and Plurals

A new Victoria's Secret ad abuses an apostrophe, but unfortunately, it's a common error. Here's the scoop on when to use apostrophes to make things plural. (Hint: Almost never.)

By
Mignon Fogarty,
August 8, 2013
Episode #378

Page 1 of 3

A couple of weeks ago, Victoria’s Secret released a new ad for a line of underwear with the brand name Body. The ad says You’ve never seen “Body’s” like this beforeBody’s with an apostrophe to make it plural. People have been writing to me about it every day since, so today, we’ll talk about the proper way to use an apostrophe to form a plural and how the writers at Victoria’s Secret could have solved their particular problem. 

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Apostrophes, Plurals, and Names

Victoria's Secret Apostrophe

Here's the problem the Victoria's Secret writers faced: Body is a brand name, which makes it a proper noun like any other name, but body is also a word—a common noun—that everyone knows. It presents them with a great opportunity to make a play on words, which they did in the ad. They couldn't make body plural the way you'd make the common noun plural (bodies) because then it's not their brand name anymore. They needed to preserve B-O-D-Y, the brand name. But it appears they didn't know how to make the brand name plural.

Regular listeners will know the answer because it's similar to the problem I talked about a couple of months ago: making brand names that end in numbers plural. You simply add s to the end, just as you would for a person's name. You have three Williams in your class and four Emilys, and Victoria's Secret is showing off their Bodys. None of those take apostrophes.

Regular people, as well as marketing writers, are confused about more than just names when it comes to apostrophes and plurals though.

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