Skip to content

RA peeved about resident apostrophe

Joey writes:

This shirt was a gift to all the RAs at the end of my last year as an
Resident Advisor. I love the idea behind the shirt, but I pretty much only wear it to bed because the apostrophe in RAs bugs me, especially since this shirt was designed by a woman with a masters degree.

Posted in Uncategorized.

JKB says:

and this shirt was actually designed by an undergraduate…

evesleaves says:

Chicago style says it would basically only work in lowerase words to prevent confusion:

There really are two x’s in Foxx.
the three Rs

Anonymous says:

Johnny got several A’s on his report card.
Johnny got several As on his report card.

The apostrophe is needed here to avoid confusion.

Johnny got several (C’s vs Cs) on his report card.

That one is up for debate and personal taste.

Anonymous says:

speaking of punctuation, note that the anonymous above me put the period outside the end quotation mark. periods always go inside, according to the lil’ brown handbook. so all this debate is trivial. world peace.

Anonymous says:

This would look like crap if it said ‘RAs Make Better Lovers’. It’s that simple. Anoyone who believes RAs is correct it stupid.

And to ‘masters degree’… how about you learn some grammar before complaining, you idiot.

c. luis says:

Dear joshua,

I just can’t agree with your argument that RA’s
(for the plural) is correct. Your last sentence states that R.A.’s (plural) is the actual true spelling, but just because you say it, doesn’t make it so. At the beginning, you say that there is tremendous debate in style manuals, so you really haven’t done anything except to state YOUR opinion. Also, I would never think about RA being an Egyptian god since both letters are capitals.

Joshua says:

This one only highlights exactly why such “rules” are meaningless. There is tremendous debate in style manuals over the proper apostrophization in terms like RA’s. The apostrophe in this case is clearly appropriate (all debate aside.) RAs doesn’t look like a real word — it looks like scientific nomenclature for protein synthesis. The real problem, of course, is that the word is written RA and not R.A. R.A.s, you’ll all admit, would be ridiculous. But since both letters are pronounced as letters there should be periods to avoid the inappropriate (if awesome) pronunciation that is identical to the Egyptian god Ra. So, R.A.’s is the actual true spelling of this word.

Christina says:

Yeah, it would bug the crap out of me too and I’d never wear it! LOL! I didn’t realize this rule was up for debate :) I actually got docked a dozen points on a college paper for typing “1950′s” instead of 1950s, it’s driven me nuts since. So per my lucky style guide . . .

PLURALS FOR SINGLE LETTER: mind your p’s and q’s. The Oakland A’s won the pennant. DO NOT USE: For plurals of numerals or multiple-letter combinations (Associated Press Style Guide).

Anonymous says:

Dear elisson,

Who exactly says that the apostrophe is correct in the plural of RA, DVD, etc? Do you have a source?

Elisson says:

I’m as much of an apostrophe pedant as anyone – maybe more – but I’m sorry to say that this is (for once) a correct usage. Plurals of acronyms such as RA, DVD, VCR are formed using an apostrophe. It’s not the capital letter that makes it so; it’s the fact that we’re dealing with an acronym.

Chris says:

RA’s is correct. The apostrophe stands in for “ssistant”.

Scott says:

GAH!. Ditto Becky … how ironical!

Anonymous says:

Anonymous, you can’t use a blanket statement like “…in the United States, RA’s is correct” when there’s plenty of debate over that issue.


If you’re using capital letters, there’s really no reason to use the apostrophe, it doesn’t make it any more readable. If you use lower case letters, you can add one to prevent confusion.

–> Mississippi has four i’s.
–> I bought four DVDs for Dave.

Anonymous says:

In Canada, the UK, and Australia, digibirder is correct. However, in the United States, RA’s is correct. Without knowing for sure where this t-shirt was made, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

And c. luis, I’m not jesting. Single capital letters are A’s, B’s, C’s, plurals are ABC’s. And, just for kicks, numbers also get the apostrophe (e.g. 1940′s).

C. Luis says:

Dear Anonymous,

How in the world could apostrophes be preferred after capital letters? That’s absurd. Surely you jest!! RAs, DVDs, VCRs–plural, more than one.

digibirder says:

“Apostrophes are preferred following capital letters”

Not too sure about that:

Anonymous says:

Apostrophes are preferred following capital letters. “RA’s” is correct.

Becky says:

I think it’s funny that Joey left the apostrophe out of “master’s degree” in his punctuation rant.

hee hee

Heather says:

Maybe the shirt designer didn’t want to confuse people?

“What’s a ‘Ras’?”

Anonymous says:

I think I read somewhere that apostrophes are acceptable in cases like this, but I agree, it would bug the crap out of me.