I made a “Plural V. Possessive” flowchart last year and posted it to my photography blog for the benefit of other photographers who might be designing holiday cards for clients. I thought of it tonight after Shutterfly brought to my attention the following “potential misspelling” in a book I’m designing for the family:

Potential misspellings

If you squint, you can see a little warning flag on the left for the title of the book, “Keeping Up With the Johnsons,” and a note that reads “Potential misspellings. Right-click underlined words for options.” Since the book is about all 5 of the members of my family, I used the plural form of our surname, Johnson, to make Johnsons. Correct. However, just for kicks I went into edit mode and changed it to an apostrophe S to see if Shutterfly would like that better. Sure enough, it liked my “correction”: you can see in the shot on the right that the incorrect, possessive form of our family name doesn’t include any “potential misspelling” flag or warning. I’m taking time out of creating my book to post this blog just to let everyone know (in case you thought otherwise!) that Shutterfly—and other automated wizards that you may run into from time to time in various software programs or apps—doesn’t necessarily understand your context, and thus the correct grammar, of what you’re writing. Please don’t automatically go changing things just because they suggest you could be wrong—especially when you know you’re right!

If you need a refresher on the plural v. possessive thing, hopefully this flow chart will be of help.

PluralPossessive