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.)

Mignon Fogarty
Episode #378

Apostrophes and Plurals

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. 

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.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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