Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Tenants lounge"

This is the first of what I suspect will be a series of posts on misused apostrophes.

My completely unscientific research suggests the apostrophe is the most commonly-misused punctuation mark (in Canada and the U.S., at least) -- and it's important to use your apostrophes correctly, because they play such an important role in communicating meaning.

Is this hotel lounge named for a family named "Tenants?" If so, the sign is fine.

If not, we likely need an apostrophe in the name.

If the lounge is intended for one tenant, it would more accurately be named "Tenant's Lounge" (apostrophe before the possessive "s"). It's the lounge meant for that one tenant.

If, as is more likely, the lounge is for any of the hotel's tenants to use, it should be called the "Tenants' Lounge" (apostrophe after the pluralizing "s"), since it's the lounge meant to be used by all the tenants (plural).

For an easy-to-read-and-understand primer on how to use the apostrophe, Grammar Girl offers a great series of posts -- and when you need a quick reference with a laugh on the side, check out The Oatmeal on the topic.

Thanks to Chris Lee for spotting this sign!


  1. Apostrophes are powerful: The lack of one in Tenants switches Lounge from a noun to a verb.

  2. Removing the plural (which would change the sign to 'Tenant Lounge') could solve the problem, too.