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The Grocer's Apostrophe

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The grocer, specifically the greengrocer, often seems to get ribbed for his use of the apostrophe. And there's some truth in it: I'm sure you've all seen the grocer on the market selling "carrot's" and "pot's".

But this article isn't about that exactly. It's about big grocers. Very big grocers.

It was Morrisons that started me off on this. You see Morrisons is called Morrisons for a reason. It was founded by William Morrison in 1899 as a stall in a Bradford market and Sir Ken Morrison only ended the dynasty in 2008 when he stood down as chairman. So why isn't the store chain called "Morrison's"?

What's curious about this is that the other dynastic food retailer in the UK (Tim Sainsbury, last of the line, resigned in 1999) is Sainsbury's and yup, they're still got that apostrophe.

It would be interesting to know why company decided to keep the apostrophe and the other didn't.

And while you ponder that one consider this: the other large food retailers in the UK are (in descending size order): Tesco, Asda, The Co-Op, Waitrose, and Aldi.

I often hear people say things like "I shop at Tesco's". I never hear the possessive use that way with any of the other four. Why is that?

Tags: words Written 04/04/11


Previous comments about this article:

On 04/04/11 at 9:19pm Derek Law wrote:

Because you're a nesh southerner? I have often heard folk talk about shopping at Asda's, but up north they weren't recent arrivals.

And there is an apostrophe at the other end of t'Co-op.

On 04/04/11 at 9:45pm Tim Steele wrote:

I phoned the clothing store Lands' End (sic) and asked them why the apostrophe was after the s of Lands. Apparently it was a mistake and it's too late to fix it now!

On 05/04/11 at 8:00am Simon Booth wrote:

People round our way used to call it Tessa Cohen's. I'm not sure why, given that his name was Jack and his wife was (I've just looked it up) Sarah, but at least the possessive makes sense there.

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