November 22, 2009 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Where should the apostrophe go in the sentence "In Memory of Great Loves Lost"? Loves is plural (referring to all the loving in the world), but does it possess "lost"? Should it be loves'?

The closest example is Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost", but people apostrophe it many different ways. I've also tried to find where this example should go on the amazing apostrophe chart that was posted here a while back, but I am still uncertain.
posted by niccolo to Writing & Language (14 answers total)
There is no apostrophe.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:57 PM on November 22, 2009

There shouldn't be an apostrophe at all. Lost is an adjective describing Loves. As in "Lost Loves".
posted by Justinian at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2009

No apostrophe; "loves lost" is really just "lost loves" so lost is an adjective.
posted by itstheclamsname at 4:59 PM on November 22, 2009

See post-positive adjectives - it's an archaic form, but is fine without an apostrophe (like God Almighty).
posted by Paragon at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2009

Lost isn't a noun, so if Loves were a possessive there'd have to be something for it to possess, even if implied: "Great Loves' Lost Slippers" or something.
posted by hattifattener at 5:00 PM on November 22, 2009

Best answer: No apostrophe; "lost" describes the status of the "great loves" (i.e., great loves that have been lost).
posted by scody at 5:01 PM on November 22, 2009

In a pile of many apples rotting (said the unfortunate pear). It ain't "apple's".
posted by Namlit at 5:01 PM on November 22, 2009

posted by you're a kitty! at 5:03 PM on November 22, 2009

Best answer: Concur: No apostrophe is needed in this case.

In "love's labour's lost" the first apostrophe is possessive (the labour belongs to love), whereas the second apostrophe is indicating a contraction of "labour is". So there's two very different uses of an apostrophe in that example.

Bless you for asking! Apostrophe abuse is pretty rampant, and pretty annoying =]
posted by gribbly at 5:17 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Heh, comedy gold: There *are* two very different uses =]
posted by gribbly at 5:18 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

No apostrophe.
posted by Miko at 5:34 PM on November 22, 2009

gribbly, you just changed my life by explaining that contraction. Thank you. (Previously it has been explained to me as "just the way things happened before spelling/grammar/punctuation were regularized" -- and even if that's true, you've given me a logical explanation that I deeply appreciate.)
posted by obliquicity at 6:22 PM on November 22, 2009

Gribbly's explanation is rather controversial. There are a lot of scholarly types who believe the title should, indeed, be "Love's Labours Lost" and that the apostrophe is an error.
posted by Justinian at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you, brilliant answers everyone.
posted by niccolo at 7:19 PM on November 22, 2009

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