Recently I clashed again with an editor. When I referred to one man, say Mr. Peterson, I wrote Mr. Peterson's car. When I wrote about the family's car, I wrote the Petersons' car (or the Peterson car), but when I wrote that the Petersons went to Hawaii, I did not place an apostrophe in the word Peterson.
Am I crazy or have I been wrong all my life? The editor said to write The Peterson's went to Hawaii is the grammatically correct way to write this. I hope to receive a little backup, and if somehow I've been wrong all these years, you can sue me as soon as I win the lottery. :)

In this particular book, several family names crop up a number of times, and at least she has agreed to change all these to my liking, "even though it's not grammatically correct".

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AAAAAHhh!! Twitch...twitch. NO! The Peterson's went ot Hawaii is so wrong. Send her a link to the OWL (Online Writing Lab) or something to refresh her memory before I get any more twitchy.

Good grief, Carl, are they hiring illegals now to serve as editors? I'm having similar problems with my editor, who insists on murdering my manuscript. I've never had more than a few punctuation corrections for my nine previous books, but this one wants to completely rewrite the novel. I heard a story once about a well-known writer who was so frustrated with his copy editor that he wrote STET the entire book on the cover page. I certainly understand.

To answer your question: the Petersons went to Hawaii, Mr. Peterson's car was towed, and the Petersons' car is in the driveway. Dan's right. Any 5th grader knows that, or do they? The dumbing down of America is defintely in high gear.

Your editor is an idiot.
Shh! Thanks for the support, but not so loud. I may have to send something to them again one of these days. I began to wonder if I wasn't getting Oldtimer's Disease. (I wrote Oldtimer's to rhyme with Alzheimer's, so don't yell at me for that.)
this sort of stuff drives me crazy. add an s and nothing else for plural - the petersons, two dogs, three trees. add an apostrophe to show possession - the exception being its/it's - mum's car, jenny's watch - stick the apostrophe after the s for plurals possessing something - two dogs' ball. its - the dog scratched its leg - it's - it's an nice day.

it isn't difficult...even for an editor...:)
You are grammatically correct. I always have trouble with the words that already end in s or z. But what you described is easy basic grammer.

I think I'll quiz my boys and see if they know the answer.
Then, I'll know your editor didn't graduate at our high school, and I'll be greatly relieved.

Send your editor a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It contains a very nice rant on exactly this topic. You are dead on. Please keep up the fight for correct punctuation!
I wouldn't be convinced that any fifth grader knows the answer to that one anymore. They stopped teaching grammar in grammar school a long time ago.
Thanks to everyone for the support and neat commentaries. I feel pretty smug now, but I'll try not to let it go to my head. Good luck to all!
The editor is wrong. No apostrophe to make "Peterson" plural. You are correct in your usage.

You know, I've noticed some errors like this in recent books. Don't let this editor win.
Ummm, C.M., I had the same thing happen to me several years ago. I taught English for thirteen years, by the way. The editor insisted that I use an apostrophe where I knew there shouldn't be one. We argued for some time before I decided to do it my way. I now have another editor.
Oh, dear God, you have a numbskull for an editor. There ought to be a law against editors forcing writers to make mistakes. You are, of course, right, and he/she is wrong.

Simply mark it STET indicating that it should not be changed. The author does have the last word.


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