Terrible Two’s Tough

Spring writes in with..

Attached is a picture of apostrophe abuse on the new Reynolds Wrap commercial. It claims its product is “terrible two’s tough”, inadvertently making the claim that “terrible two IS tough.” Whatever THAT means.

I haven’t seen the commercial, so maybe I’m missing something, but even without the apostrophe, what does “Terrible Twos Tough” mean? Are you supposed to wrap your kid in the stuff when he starts acting up or something?

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8 thoughts on “Terrible Two’s Tough

  1. You know, I’ve seen the damn commercial and it didn’t make any sense to me. It has some child, I imagine a two-year-old, sitting in a highchair, presumably making some sort of mess, while a woman, presumably the kid’s mother, wraps up a casserole dish filled with gook with Reynolds Wrap.

    Thanks for posting my submission! W00t. This is my new favorite thing. The new menu board at KFC has a bad apostrophe on it. I just gotta get in there and take a picture of it.

  2. Ok, ok, I know it’s wrong but wouldn’t it be correct if it read:

    Terrible 2’s tough?

    Isn’t that how one writes the plural of a number? So, why the apostrophe on the numeral, but not the word? Let’s face it: twos is a bit hard to decipher.

    For that matter what is the priority that makes it’s the contracted form of it is, and not the possessive of it? Every other possessive uses an apostrophe even if it can also signify a contraction. Eg.: That’s John’s book. John’s left his book.

  3. I actually don’t think it’s correct to include an apostrophe when pluralizing a number, especially when discussing years or decades: e.g., 1900s, ’70s, etc. I believe the “s” on the end of the number is different enough from the number that an apostrophe is not necessary to clarify that it’s not part of the rest of the number it’s rendering plural. Which, when it comes down to it, is why all these people add apostrophes in when they pluralize something–because they want to keep the whatever it is they’re pluralizing in tact.

    Good question about “its” and “it’s,” though. I don’t know the exact reasoning behind it. I think it may have to do with the fact that in that last example sentence you used, “John left his book,” the “his” doesn’t take an apostrophe. The following sentence is a similar sentence structure, with “its” standing in for “his”: “The snake shed its skin.” “His” doesn’t take an apostrophe, so why would “its”?

    Does that make any sense at all?

    I don’t know if I’m right, though. What does everyone else have to say about either of these issues?

  4. Possessive pronouns never take an apostrophe, only possessive nouns. His, hers, mine, yours (NOT your’s), theirs, its. The existence of the possessive apostrophe is a bit of an oddity to English to begin with. German has a nearly identical construction, but with no apostrophe (Karls Boot = Karl’s boat).

    Highly recommend “Eats, shoots and leaves” if you haven’t already read it.

    As for explaining this particular commercial, the Reynolds Wrap (Reynold’s Wrap?) is so tough, it’s not just kid-tough, it’s terrible-twos-tough. At least that’s my read.

  5. Spring is correct…never add an apostrophe after a number.( Example- 1900s is correct.)I write for a living…I know!

  6. After I saw the commercial, I called the company that makes Reynold’s Wrap and informed them of the mistake. They took the commercial off the air; apparently others had called to complain.

  7. Prior to finding this website, I emailed Reynolds Wrap about their apostrophe misuse. They responded with:
    “Our advertising agency chose this spelling of “Terrible Two’s” because they felt it was an
    easier read in the creative context. Often they take “creative license” with spelling and words if it helps communicate the message better. Additionally, it appears on the web in both ways (outside of a possessive context).

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on our advertising.”

    As a language arts teacher and ESL volunteer teacher, I call it an “error.” I sent RW’s email to all my teacher-friends (and my ad/pr instructor from college) and so far they all agree that RW would do better associating themselves with butchered meat rather than the English language.

  8. This isn’t apostrophe abuse; the apostrophe is for a contraction, not for pluralization or possession. “Terrible Two’s Tough” simply means “Terrible Two Is Tough”. The term “Terrible Two” is singular, because there is only one “two”. It’s referring to the age of 2 and since it is referring to only one age, it is singular. Is “the age” not singular?

    I’m assuming the advertising agency wanted alliteration on the Ts to make their commercial sound better, so that’s why they didn’t clarify what they meant by saying, “Terrible Two Is Tough” instead.

    Despite sounding strange, this usage is still correct because it is a contraction.

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