Re: Do's or Dos

Subject: Re: Do's or Dos
From: byfield -at- DIRECT -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:04:27 -0800

Isabella Adornato wrote:

>I need to use the phrase "Do's and Don'ts" except that I'm not
>quite sure on how it should be written: "Dos" or "Do's".

"Do's" is often used, but I think it's a sign of creeping illiteracy:
many people, I notice, don't know the difference between a plural and
a possessive apostrophe.

In a similar case, decades are sometimes written with an apostrophe
(1990's), but, recently, many style guides have insisted on not using
it (1990s).

I lean slightly towards a descriptive approach to grammar (if only
because the grammatical purists so often use nitpicking to assert
their own superiority). However, in this case, I'm dead against using an
apostrophe. It's likely to be misread, and anything that reduces clarity
should be avoided. I suppose that "Dos" might be misread as "DOS," but
the lower case letters should be enough of a guide.

Bruce Byfield (bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com) / byfield -at- direct -dot- ca
Technical Writer
Prostyle Software
Burnaby, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189

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