March 28, 2008 2:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I pluralize a contraction that already ends with an apostrophe?

I was just IMing with a friend and needed to pluralize the word beatin', which ends with an apostrophe. If I were to just add an s, I'd get:


That looks like the possessive form of "beatin" and is totally wrong. Alternatively, I could put the apostrophe at the end, but that makes even less sense.
posted by ignignokt to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Leave out the apostrophe completely.
posted by Dizzy at 2:30 PM on March 28, 2008

It's not totally wrong. It's still a contraction.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2008

You could do a different contraction for beatin' and do beat'n instead and then say beat'ns.
posted by jessamyn at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2008

I think you just have to write it the way you wrote it so that there's an apostrophe standing in for the missing G, and live with the fact that it looks deceptively like a possessive. It's pretty much just a coincidence that the apostrophe and letter S end up being next to each other.

By analogy, the word "it's," meaning "it is," has an apostrophe-S without being possessive. Just because apostrophe-S is used for possessives doesn't mean it can only be used for possessives.

That's my off-the-cuff judgment. It's such an informal context that I doubt you'd be able to find a clear rule in a traditional usage guide.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:36 PM on March 28, 2008

Beatin's is correct. Apostrophes make things look weird, like "GO 'WAY, 'BATIN'!"

"Beatins" without the apostrophe looks a little better, though. If I were to incorporate a company called House of Pancakes and Beatins, I'd probably do it without the apostrophe. Unless you're writing an article on beatin's, I think this is one of those instances where taking punctuational liberties won't make you look dumb.

Beatins' is totally rong.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

what is wrong with shifting to "beatings"?

you also might want to check out the Chicago Style manual online:
posted by salem at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2008

Since it's already a colloquialism, I humbly submit that you might want to consider kickin' up the vernacular a notch and go with "beatinses."
posted by dersins at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2008 [6 favorites]

Best answer: If I were to incorporate a company called House of Pancakes and Beatins
Kickboxers and breakfast food! Do they do the flapjacks on the table a la Benihana?

I'd drop the apostrophe as well. Mostly because grammar is like manners. It's there to aid understanding of intentions. You don't lose communication value if you drop the apostrophe, but you can miscommunicate if you keep it.

It's vs. Its is a contrary example, as it's the contraction over the possessive that gets the apostrophe when push comes to shove. And one of the reasons it's frequently wrong everywhere.
posted by Gucky at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2008

Google search results:

Results 1 - 10 of about 4,130 for beatin's.

Results 1 - 10 of about 5,640 for beatins.

Interestingly, the blurb of context for the "beatin's" examples offers much more eloquent writing, so the margin of popularity might well be countered by the lousy "beatins" usage.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

So would the posessive of beatin' be beatin''s?

I think dropping the apostrophe (and adding it back in for the posessive) is the only way to go.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2008

you do not drop the apostrophe. it stands in for the missing letter g. leaving it out is incorrect.
posted by mr_book at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2008

Agreed. And context delivers meaning. Realistically, how many times in your lifetime will you encounter the possessive beatin's?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:07 PM on March 28, 2008

leaving it out is incorrect.

Yes, and somehow millions of people know what Dunkin(g) Do(ugh)nuts is talking about.
posted by Gucky at 8:14 PM on March 28, 2008

Gucky, "donut" is an alternate spelling of "doughnut," not a contraction. A contraction is never pronounced exactly the same as the expression(s) it comprises. The name of the chain is, properly, "Dunkin' Donuts."

The plural if "beatin'" is "beatin's." The contraction denotes a missing letter.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:25 PM on March 28, 2008

True, the apostrophe denotes a missing letter. An apostrophe can denote possession, but this is not always the case, nor should it be understood as necessary. Hers, his ours, theirs - all possessives with no apostrophe. Bit in any contraction where letters are left out, you use an apostrophe. It's beatin's.
posted by mr_book at 10:44 PM on March 28, 2008

But in any contraction, damn it.
posted by mr_book at 10:44 PM on March 28, 2008

I'd advocate the George Bernard Shaw method: leave out the apostrophe, and then never use one again. Ever!
posted by astrochimp at 8:39 PM on March 29, 2008

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