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Generic possessives

Crumbly Writer

This is a minor issue, and one which I resolved long ago, but one which has bugged me for ages. How do you apply a possessive to a generic descriptions. Specifically, do you say "someone else's" or "everyone's". Every time I do, the damn spell checkers mark it as an error, but I never knew why.

According to Pain in the English, it's perfectly acceptable (apparently the spell checker assumes you're a moron, assuming you intended "someone elses" (plural), and just added the punctuation as a good luck charm.

So, for all you confused by your grammar checker, wonder no more. "Else's" is perfectly legitimate.

You'd think, for as long as grammar checkers have been around, someone would have figured out that this is not and error and corrected it, but there's never been any widespread attempts to improve the accuracy of grammar checkers over time. Instead, each company simply dumps a beta-version grammar checker onto their product, figures 'that's good enough', and promptly forgets it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  graybyrd
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, I get that non-error flagged all the time.

Word's grammar checker does catch a lot of stuff, but it isn't right all the time. Just today I wrote:

All I could do was wait.

The grammar checker put a green line under "wait" and suggested it be "waiting."

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Switch Blayde

Word's grammar checker does catch a lot of stuff, but it isn't right all the time. Just today I wrote:

All I could do was wait.
The grammar checker put a green line under "wait" and suggested it be "waiting."

I suppose that to be perfectionist that should be "All I could do was to wait" but what you wrote is what I would actually say in conversation

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@sejintenej

I suppose that to be perfectionist that should be


So Word was correct? Yikes!

tppm

CW, I think you're right, and I think that's one of the (many) areas where grammar checkers, in general, are brain damaged.

One that I encounter quite often is it flags "old's", as in "the X-year-old's pussy".

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Specifically, do you say "someone else's" or "everyone's". Every time I do, the damn spell checkers mark it as an error, but I never knew why.


Yep ... and the first time it does, I add that flagged word to the dictionary, and keep on typin'. I don't care what the hell Microsoft says. It's my computer and it will work the way **I** want the damned thing to work.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@graybyrd

I's not just MS work. Open Office does the same damn thing.

Crumbly Writer

@tppm

One that I encounter quite often is it flags "old's", as in "the X-year-old's pussy".

That was explained in the first link I posted. It's because, since it's a compound word, it thinks the wrong word is the adjective--an understandable and unavoidable mistake.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

I am not a computer programmer, although I took a few classes a long, long time ago. Mid 1960s, language was BASIC and although it was basic, that was the name of the language. Also some things that required punch cards with command like CLA (clear and add) with boxes of the cards left off at the computer center with programs to debug when picked up the next day. I was not good at it.

However, if someone responsible for grammar checkers or spell checkers wanted to pay for it, the necessary exceptions could be added to the program. I suppose it was not cost effective or demanded at the time the programming was done to adjust the program to make the changes you need/desire. It could be done. Not by me, but I do know enough about programming to understand IF/Then statements that would adjust the output.

Its not an unavoidable mistake. Its one they chose not to pay for.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Its not an unavoidable mistake. Its one they chose not to pay for.

The point isn't that improvements to grammar checkers wouldn't be appreciated by customer, but that they're a low priority to the companies producing software, who tack on half-assed products and figure no one will look beyond that. They're not big selling points, but not having them would be.

By the way, I started work in computer just after the punch card era. When I began, we were using punch tapes (rolls of tape where the instructions were automatically punched by a teletype machine you typed the commands on), graduated to cassette tapes, moves on to 5.25" and 3.5" disks, until we eventually reached floppy disks.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  tppm
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer


By the way, I started work in computer just after the punch card era.


I started in the card punch era. We filled out coding sheets and sent them to the typists who punched the cards (like a typing pool).

tppm
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


moves on to 5.25" and 3.5" disks, until we eventually reached floppy disks.


Um, last I checked 5.25" and 3.5" (and before them 8") disks, ARE floppy disks. For portable data storage they were succeed by CDs and DVDs, then by flash drives.

The alternative to floppy disks was, and is, hard disks, which are embedded in the computer case, or, in the days of mainframes, were in refrigerator sized drive units in the computer room, or nearby.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@tppm

Um, last I checked 5.25" and 3.5" (and before them 8") disks, ARE floppy disks. For portable data storage they were succeed by CDs and DVDs, then by flash drives.

I see you're used to the consumer grade storage. The early computers to use a floppy disc had a 12 inch floppy disc in a thick card cover. Most of the mainframes had disc packs of 12 inch metal discs and a lot of people got real excited when they were able to get 100 MB disc packs.

As to the punch cards - most programs had multiple boxes of cards for the program and another dozen or more for the data. Each box held a thousands of cards and if you ever dropped a box and mixed the cards up all hell broke loose. One place I worked we had a couple of huge truck loads of cards taken off for recycling when we were able to replace the cards with the programs and data stored on reels of tape.

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