Submitted by sigurd on February 15, 2011

i’s vs “i”s

I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.

I’ve dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s.

Which of the foregoing examples is correct?

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The first example is correct. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage prefers it, using the example of "mind your p's and q's."

An apostrophe is not used when making a word plural, and, increasingly, also not used when making a number plural. But in the case of an individual letter the apostrophe is still required, particularly when its absence would cause confusion. In this case, "is" is a word, so the absence of an apostrophe could give momentary misdirection to the reader.

The site referenced by Anonymous coward says that both are correct, as porsche notes. But if not wrong—and it is—the double quotation mark construction is, at the very least, inelegant.

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I agree; what is the point of the quotation marks. (Rhetorical question so no question mark) (Incomplete sentence so no period)

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The first one...I hope :-)

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The first is correct but only if the letters are lowercase. If they are uppercase, then it should say Is and Ts. The quotation marks are unnecessary.

Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/

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The second - see http://apostrophe.me

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I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that site had died. It's http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

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To "Anonymous coward": you said that the second one is correct, but the link you posted says both are correct!!

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I prefer the first one. It's the one I was taught, and the second one looks noisy and hard to read, to me. I agree that there may not be a hard-and-fast rule on this, however.

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In response to Ivy, with respect: if the letters are uppercase, then "dotting the i" has no meaning; neither does crossing the upper-case "t" have any. No dot in the first instance, no crossing in the second.

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The apostrophes look better than the quotation marks. In response to Ivy: notice that if you pluralize a capital I at the beginning of a sentence, it looks like the word "is".

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@Douglas, yeah I know but I'm not talking about the meaning of the sentence but the usage of apostrophes for capital letters vs lowercase letters.

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This has been discussed in some detail already. See:

http://painintheenglish.com/?p=1521

and

http://painintheenglish.com/?p=1600

Also, mentioned in passing in quite a few posts on this site.

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