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GPM - Grammar By Request

This post has been a long time coming, but I finally got it done. Below are some grammar questions I've received over the last few months followed by the best answers I could find.

For a long time immigration and emigration always got mixed up in my head!  

Immigration is the act of moving, typically coming to a country that is not one's place of origin, and usually for permanent residence.

Emigrate is basically the oppositeto leave a country or region and move to another; to migrate

And isn't that just downright confusing?  : /

The best thing I can come up with is: since 'im' sounds like 'in,' use that to remember immigrate means to move 'in.'

Hey Melissa, would you address the 's or s' rule sometime soon. (Lewis's for possessive vs Lewis', for example.) I understand it's achangin' with the times... *sigh* I don't handle change well. :P

Me neither. LOL

According to the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, the general rule is that the possessives of most singular nouns are formed by adding 's. The possessives of plural nouns, except for a few such as children that don't end in s, are formed by adding an apostrophe only.

It came straight from the horse's mouth. (singular)

Peggy peered down at the churning litter. There was mud on every one of the puppies' paws. (plural)

I think what you're talking about is proper names ending in s, be it pronounced or unpronounced (e.g. Francois, James), or proper/classical names of two or more syllables that end in an eez sound (e.g. Xerxes). Chicago now recommends possessive forms like these have 's added.

"Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s. . .Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago." - pg. 355, 7.21

I know some people pronounce the second s regardless, but I don't. Probably because I was taught to leave the possessive s off.

My 2c...
In my first WIP, the hero's name is Miles. I pronounce it the same whether it's possessive or not. I wrote it as Miles' andpossessive s added or notI certainly wouldn't say Miles-ez. According to Chicago, that pronunciation (saying the second s) is not wrong. Still, it sounds strange to my ear.

I like the old way better. Wanna buck the system? :P

What's the proper format for ellipses?  Are they three consecutive periods...OR should they be three periods separated by a space? Also, do they or don't they require another period—without an extra space—if they end a sentence. I'm reading conflicting recommendations on this and it's causing me to lose hair. Help!

I’ll do my best.

First, ellipses represent an omitted word or phrase, etc. They can also indicate an interruption in thought, a trailing off. A period is added before them at the end of a sentence, unless the sentence is deliberately incomplete.

They are written as three spaced periods, but, because they must all appear on the same line, Chicago suggests authors go ahead and use the ellipsis character (Unicode 2026), usually with a space on either side, and then editors who follow Chicago can replace these with three spaced periods. 

Is that anytime or any time?

Anytime is a relatively new word that is used as an adverb meaning at any time

You're welcome here anytime

And as a subordinating conjunction meaning whenever.
Anytime Connie walks by, my boyfriend forgets I exist.

(Note: You're welcome here any time. & Any time Connie walks by, . . . are also correct.)

There are times you must separate it, such as when you actually write the adverbial phrase at any time

Dr. Barnes kept his phone handy; the hospital could call at any time

Or when you need a noun. Anytime cannot function as a noun. If you split it, though, then any becomes a modifier of the noun time

Will you have any time to help me with my project?

(Note: We could remove the word any from this sentence and the meaning would not change.) 

Bottom line: you can't go wrong splitting it up, but you can go wrong writing it as one word. When in doubt, write it as two. ;)

For a lesson on similar words, click here.


If this lesson didn't cover the topic you needed, 
check out the Grammar Police Files
It's a permanent page on my blog with links to all the posts.

As always, thanks for visiting. :)


  1. ellipses have given me grief recently with the conflicting info. This is a great list of helpful tips.

  2. Thanks for the lesson. Hearing double s in possessives reminds me of Gollum speaking. "orcses"

  3. Well, I can see I'm not following the rules...

  4. Great stuff. I stumble over all these at one time or another. In the first novel I wrote, the protagonist's surname was Adams. I never knew the correct way to write the possessive, but mostly I left off the S. Then I started reading about the need to put in the 'S with S-ending names. I vowed to never give another character a name that ended with S. And mostly I've stuck to that, unless they're going to be on the page for a very short time.

  5. So I'm not the only one who screws up immigration and emigration. I'm glad! :D
    Going to bookmark your Grammar Police files.

  6. The only one I'm not sure about is the ellipses one. I never space between the periods and always leave a space afterwards if it's the end of the thought. Hmm. I'll have to check the manual on that one. Thanks Melissa! Learned something new!

  7. That im- versus em- bugged me for years. It wasn't until I started looking up etymology that I learned the e was actually short for ex- (out) and it all made sense.

    Good tips with the any time and anytime, too. It's another one of those easy-to-confuse grammar things.

  8. This is totally awesome. The s apostrophe thing always trips me up!

  9. Like the Q & A format this week. One thing I'm still on the fence about is the one space or two spaces after the period debate. Heard anything new on that one?

    1. I heard from a multi-pubbed author that publishers want only one these days.

      (You can do a 'replace all' in your Word document if needed. You don't have to change every stinkin' one individually. LOL)

  10. Thanks, M! Awhile can give me trouble (it's like any time/anytime). Separate or one word?

    It's been a while since I've seen her.
    It's been awhile since I've seen her.

    Help me GPM!

    Also, I use ellipses all the time. It's supposed to be three consecutive periods with no spaces in between the ellipses and the surrounding words, but I've gotten into the habit of putting a space before and after the ellipses. It formats better on the computer.

  11. Lovely! I appreciate the answers to my questions! Sorry I've missed a couple of Mondays here. I need to get back in the saddle after the holidays. :)

  12. Love this, as always!! Here's something funny, I hardly ever, I'm thinking never chosen a name with an "s" at the end, so I didn't have to deal with using 's or s'. :)) I know, I'm a wimp, right?


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