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Was Suzanne Spying on My Personal Life?

“I’ll have that copywriting article ready in the morning. Right now, Peggy and I are heading out to Byrnes’ Irish Pub for dinner and a Guinness.”

I was sending an Instant Message to ETR’s Managing Editor, Suzanne Richardson, from our cabin up in Maine.

“I Googled that pub, and it looks great!” Suzanne replied. “Too bad the owner’s not related to you – you might have a little family reunion.”

How could Suzanne have known the owner was NOT related to me just from looking at the pub’s website?

So I went to the site myself. And when I saw the logo, I realized what Suzanne had noticed: If one of my relatives owned it, it would be “Byrne’s Irish Pub.” But (as I found out) the owner is Joe Byrnes, not Joe Byrne.

In a follow-up e-mail, Suzanne explained the rule: “It’s clear that you’re not related to Joe Byrnes because he’s got that extra ’s’ on the end of his name. I thought that might be the case when I saw the apostrophe in the name of the pub.”

“Of course,” she went on, “it was an incorrect use of the apostrophe.”

How so?

According to Lynne Truss in her best-seller Eats, Shoots and Leaves, “Current guides to punctuation… state that with modern names ending in ’s’ (including biblical names, and any foreign name with an unpronounced final ’s’), the ’s’ is required after the apostrophe.” For instance, “Keats’s poems.”

As with most rules, there are exceptions: names from the ancient world (Archimedes and Achilles, for example), names ending with an “iz” sound (like Bridges or Moses), and Jesus.

So “Byrnes’ Irish Pub” should really be “Byrnes’s Irish Pub” – making it even more clear that Joe Byrnes and I are not related.

[Ed. Note: Have a sticky grammar or usage question? E-mail us at and one of ETR’s editorial experts just may respond to your question in an upcoming issue of ETR.]

Charlie Byrne

Charlie Byrne is a former Senior Copywriter and Editorial Director for Early to Rise. Charlie spent the earlier part of his business career as a systems analyst, project manager and consultant in New York City for Fortune 100 companies including Philip Morris, Digital Equipment, and Citicorp as well as New York University and Columbia University. He then spent over ten years at Reuters Ltd and Interealty Corp designing and implementing financial, real estate and news information services. In 2003, he joined Early to Rise as a senior editor and copywriter. Since then he has helped publish over 1000 editions of ETR, resulting in gross revenues of well over $25 million. He has also produced dozens of winning sales letters and promotions, including two that brought in over $200,000 in under 24 hours, another two that have grossed over $1 million each, and a single sales letter that sold 25 units of a $10,000 product.