The slippery “s” and the strange places it shows up.

We are a nation of “essers.” We have a twitchy finger that wants to add an “s” where it doesn’t belong, and drop it off words that need it. A few niggling examples:

Please take a look at this photo. Note the absence of an “s” at the end. Note the right way to refer to the store, as in, “I just went mad crazy at the shoe sale at Nordstrom.” Not Nordstrom’s.

This one is a local Detroit thing. Factory workers around here often say, “Oh, yeah, I work at Ford’s.” As if they knew Henry personally. As in, “Ya know, I’ve been working the graveyard shift over at Henry Ford’s place.” When I moved to Detroit it struck me as odd. Twenty-five years later, it still is.

You’ll also notice there is no “s” after Child in Julia Child. I’m not really sure why people want to add an “s” to her name. “Childs” isn’t even the right way to make “child” plural. Go figure.

I totally get why people often say John Hopkins University. (Leaving off the “s” in Johns.) You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone names John. Turns out this esteemed institution was created by a philanthropist named Johns Hopkins. Further proof that we just cannot figure out where to put an “s” and when to leave it out. Even when we set out to name our own children.