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Please do correct my usage if it's screwy, but don't just make fun of me. i have a family for that...
Marty

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Call it possessive case if you like. Just don't mistreat my apostrophes... ;-)
How can "ISP's" be both possessive and plural?
DAS
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

It is customary in written American English to use an apostrophe between an acronym and an "s" when indicating either possession or plurality. It makes the word easier to read so that it is clearly evident that the "s" is not a part of the acronym. As an example in a sentence, one would write, "My ISP's connection is slow." Also acceptable would be the sentence, "My two ISP's are Earthlink and Bellsouth." Finally, one could also write, "My ISP's connections are slow, both Bellsouth and Earthlink." While this does not follow classical rules on apostrophe usage, it is certainly more readable and much easier for us lazy Americans than typing out Internet Service Provider. ;-)
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Beg to differ. Nothing to do with American English. Same thing happens here in the UK. Nor is it confined to acronyms. Just plain carelessness and, perhaps, ignorance...
I do agree it is "customary" in that it is widely used. In your example it should, of course, "My two ISPs are Earthlink and Bellsouth." There is nothing unclear about that.
And if we are talking of plural, it should be "My ISPs' connections are slow, both Bellsouth and Earthlink.". The second s is absent in indicating genitive in the plural. "the Eighty Years' War" (an example from Merriam-Webster's, a solid American dictionary) http://alt-usage-english.org/genitive_and_possessive.html
"Are your apple's ripe?" :-)
"These toilets are for lady's" :-))
To me what is interesting is the use of apostrophes in the genitive. There is, actually, an historical case for dropping it as it wasn't always there and is absent in German to this day.
Probably the most common misuse or confusion is "it's" and "its".
So, we need to stop and think before we use an apostrophe...
Over a glass of wine or six one can also discuss what is right and what is wrong in the moving feast that is the English language. Useage changes, meanings change...
DAS
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

I don't disagree with the fact that many people are ignorant or careless in their use of apostrophes, and I also tend to be fairly conservative when it comes to the rules of written language. Having said that, I do follow the more modern rules of apostrophe usage when writing non-pronounceable acronyms. The reason is that the standard rule itself is fairly vague. For example, to pluralize an acronym ending in the letter "s", it is acceptable to use an apostrophe so as not to confuse the reader. The modern acceptable rule is that all non-pronounceable acronyms can be pluralized with an apostrophe plus the letter "s" so as to make the word more readable. Of course pronounceable acronyms, such as laser or radar would not fall into this category as they themselves are words.

Actually, it's not just those words, but other pronouns as well. The rule goes back to the reason or using the apostrophe in possessive context the first place. It's actually a contraction. For example, "Rodney's argumentative nature is annoying," is actually, "Rodney, his argumentative nature is annoying." The reason a possessive pronoun such as "its" does not use the apostrophe is because it is a word like "his" that already implies possession. Also, this is in fact the basis for the modern usage of an apostrophe when pluralizing acronyms in that it is to indicate that the word is something of a contraction such as, "All ISP's should offer Usenet access", instead of, "All Internet service providers should provide Usenet access."
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- RODNEY


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Rod
There lies the crux...
There are no "more modern rules", just widespread misuse.
The rules for the apostrophe are simple.
Genitive and, ok, let's expand that, contractions (like don't, can't).
ISP is not a contraction in that sense. Plural of ISP is ISPs, irrespective of how novel your suggestion is.. :-)
Like I said, anything else may be widely used, but that doesn't make it right. That is not to say it may not become right at some stage in the future...
DAS
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

Keep in mind that many of our grammar rules, especially those dealing with punctuation, were based on needs dating back to the eras of handwritten manuscript and manually typeset text printing. Of particular interest is the reason for punctuation that falls inside or outside of quotations. I'll let you find that on your own, and it's worth the search. It's quite interesting, even more so that the reason for the QWERTY keyboard layout (which we all know was designed to slow down the typist to prevent locked hammers on early manual typewriters)

You still missed my point, though. Possessive or genitive use of the apostrophe is not to indicate that per se. Instead it is itself a contraction, which basically means that the only use of the apostrophe (other than as a single quotation mark) is for contractions.

Again, it's not necessarily my suggestion. It's actually being taught and accepted this way in our educational system! In other words, the future is here and it's at the stage where it is acceptable form.
By the way, I find the evolution of grammar and language to be very interesting, and while I myself will use acronyms and certain abbreviations in casual written conversation (such as Usenet posting), I strongly stand against using any sort of "slang" acronyms or abbreviations in any formal communication. I find that many people are treating corporate e-mail communications too informally. They send messages without subject lines, salutations, or signatures. Just the other day, and employee sent a message to a customer and used "u" instead of "you". Needless to say, corrective action was taken.
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- RODNEY


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See below.
DAS
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This school's motto could be "the bureaucracy has spoken"
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Don't say "usenet"...
Tell them you want to access newsgroups...
And if they give you the run around, hang tough....
Good luck!
marlinspike wrote:

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