Apostrophe rule: 100s or 100’s?

This addendum to my previous blog entry on apostrophes is dedicated to the graphic designer friend of mine who recently posted a cry for help on Facebook, asking which was correct: 100’s or 100s.

Naturally, her writer friends told her to ditch the apostrophe, which she did. Sorry to distress any literate people out there, but I have to inform you that she has since revealed that she was told to put them all back in.

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So let me restate my rule number one for apostrophes: never, ever add ’s to the end of a word just to make it plural.

This rule applies for figures. So 100s and 1,000s are both correct. Please note that 100’s is wrong and will make any sensitive reader’s eyes bleed.

And while we’re here, may I just say that the same rules I outlined in my last post also apply to abbreviations. The following are all correct:

100s of British MPs have fiddled their expenses, it’s claimed (plural, not possessive)

The MP’s wife was also implicated in the expenses scandal (singular, possessive)

MPs’ expenses will have to be closely looked at in future (plural, possessive)

Would the BBC – or any other publication that I’ve spotted getting it wrong – please take note.

Check out my other apostrophe posts here. I’ll walk you through the apostrophe rules and provide you with easy tips to remember. We’ll also take a look at some epic apostrophe fails. Most of the time it’s not as tricky as people think – but it’s crucial you get it right! Nothing will sink your writing career quicker than a misplaced apostrophe.

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8 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. smfifteen says:

    The examples of this that I notice most often are “TV’s”, and “Video’s” – usually in foot-high yellow letters in electrical shop windows. Also, it’s surprising how many music box-sets one can find that proclaim “3 CD’s of Your Favourite Tracks!”.

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    One might be tempted to deduce that too much television is bad for one’s grammar . . .

  3. Merry says:

    Now I’m wondering if you’ve got a post around here on the correct use of the comma.

    I swear, I’ve heard more editors rant about a lack of comma usage in slush – makes you wonder what their submissions look like.

  4. Clare Lynch says:

    Hi Merry

    I’ve a post planned on one of my chief bug-bears – the comma splice, so do keep popping by!


  5. Annie says:

    I always thought that the whole concept of writing “100s” to be pronounced “hundreds” was an abomination of all grammar rules. I would never write it, even in a strapline or advert.

    But I see everyone is using it these days. Such as in Argos last week, a sign said “100s of bargains today”. The way I always read it is simply “one hundreds of bargains today.”

    It simply doesn’t make sense.

  6. Jonny says:

    What about if you were to write “£100s worth of vouchers”? I assume it’s “£100’s worth of vouchers” is it not?

    Or have I got that wrong?

  7. Clare Lynch says:

    Good question. Yes, if it’s “one hundred’s worth” it would, indeed, be “£100’s worth”. If it’s “hundreds of pounds worth of vouchers”, it would be “£100s’ worth”.

  8. Andrew says:

    I just saw a copywriting website that said:

    1,000’s of native speaking writers available!

    I was sure it was wrong but it’s a website run by writers… Thanks for confirming my suspicion! (No, I won’t be using their services…)

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