To our deep regret, Dr Plokta is absent on holiday for this issue, but never mind, we've arranged for a stand-in for this issue only. Yes, it's

Ask Captain Pedantic

Dear Captain Pedantic, I am not a greengrocer, and I can normally manage quite well with apostrophes. However, one particular instance always gives me trouble. Should the plural of video be videos or video's?

Captain Pedantic replies: This is, indeed, a tricky one. Considering video as an English word in its own right, as it has now become, its plural is clearly videos. On the other hand, it's really an abbreviation for videorecordings, so inserting an apostrophe to show the missing letters is perfectly in order. Of course, those letters are also missing in the singular, which you must write as video'. I will spare you the necessity of writing the singular possessive as video"s, and allow one apostrophe to indicate both elisions, but regret to inform you that the plural possessive is inescapably video's'.

Dear Captain Pedantic, For many years I have been amusing my friends with little pedantic quips about the funny things they say. However, recently I have noticed that they have stopped offering me hot drinks. As I am very fond of tea (weak, lots of milk, two sugars, please), what can I do about this? Yours, Michael Abbott.

Captain Pedantic replies: Have you considered offering to put the kettle on yourself?

Michael Abbott with a kettle on his head
Polly put the kettle on...

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