How do you spell it?

I saw on the news this morning that the British bookstore chain, Waterstone’s has decided to change its name to Waterstones.  They are dropping the apostrophe to have a name that is better for web filtering.  I know many out there will be upset that conventional rules are being overlooked completely.  However, that is not why I am writing this post.  When I saw this on the news I thought of something I have noticed in my new neighborhood, Earls Court.  I don’t know the proper way to spell it.  I have seen it spelled Earl’s Court and Earls Court.  Take a look at the photos below and let me know if you can figure it out.

Not even the street signs are consistent.

Is the Royal Mail correct?

A church?

But what about the rest of these?

If you know the answer, please let me know.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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36 Responses to How do you spell it?

  1. I guess the question is did Earl own the court at one time or was someone or something named Earls Court? (A way to say, I have no bloody idea.)

    • TBM says:

      That is a good question. According to wikipedia, the area was under the control of the Vere family, the Earls of Oxford. I think Earls refers to the whole family line and Earl of Oxford for each individual. I hope some of my English friends can help clarify.

  2. niasunset says:

    This is interesting… But sure, I don’t have any idea… But I wonder now as you 🙂 I hope someone can explain this. Thank you dear TBM, have a nice and enjoyable weekend, with my love, nia

  3. The Hook says:

    Beats the heck out of me! Great post!

  4. Grace says:

    Oh wow. I think the Waterstones would bother me… I’d be like “Dammit there’s an apostrophe there! No wonder people say grammar is dead!” Then I’d realize that I sound like a crotchety old lady at the age of 23.

    • TBM says:

      I know! Commerce is conquering every aspect of life, now grammar. 23 huh. Have you been on an elevator or in the dentist’s office yet and heard one of your favorite songs? Or better yet, wait until you listen to the oldies station and they are playing songs you grew up with. That is when I started to feel old.

  5. acedusa says:

    There’s always been a conflict between Earl’s and Barons Court (as you may well know…) and, roughly speaking, I think for once Wikipedia is entirely accurate.'s_Court_tube_station#Name

    • TBM says:

      Thanks for the link. I didn’t think to look up the Earl’s Court Tube station in Wikipedia for an explanation. Do you know why some of the street signs have an apostrophe and others don’t? That one is the most baffling to me.

  6. Caroline says:

    Maybe it should be Earls’ Court :The Court of the earls… 🙂
    I’d go for the apostrophe, seems correct …

  7. iamkirab says:

    oh, my god! completely off topic, but you live in Earl’s Court?! When I lived in london a few years back, I lived not that far from there! On Redcliffe Gardens.

    Ok. Back on topic. I always thought it was Earl’s Court. That’s how I remember seeing it, anyway. As for what’s right? I would think some form of apostrophe would be best.

    • TBM says:

      It is a small world! A lot of people are leaning towards the apostrophe. It just feels more natural to me. But I could be completely wrong 🙂

  8. pagesofjulia says:

    Lol, I have no idea! But I would be fairly confident in hazarding that the apostrophe DOES belong and half of those signs were leaving it out…

  9. Robin says:

    lol! I don’t know. I would have thought the British were good at getting their signs correct. With the apostrophe seems the correct way to me.

    This movement to drop the apostrophe is interesting. Last year I proofread a manuscript as a favor. It’s a medical text and the copy I got from the editor was missing the apostrophes in the diseases that are named after people (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.). For a couple of chapters I merrily (and okay, somewhat irritably because I thought the editor should know better) marked in red all those missing apostrophes only to find out later that the medical community has decided to drop the apostrophe s. Now it’s Parkinson Disease, Alzheimer Disease, etc. It seemed odd to me, but now I’m wondering if it was related to web filtering.

    • TBM says:

      That is interesting. Is everyone dropping the apostrophe now to make web searches easier or to have better email addresses? Waterstone’s was the first that I had heard about dropping it for that reason. But I think I will keep a look out to see if others will do the same. I wonder if it is just laziness. Thanks for information! I had no idea.

  10. Hanna says:

    Maybe ‘correctness’ is in the eye of the beholder? 😉

  11. Fergiemoto says:

    Very confusing. I don’t have a clue which one is correct…or intended.

    • TBM says:

      It is a fun project though to keep a lookout for the different spellings. I still haven’t seen Earls’ Court, but maybe I will someday.

  12. Probably in 100 years it will be known as ‘Erls Crt’ once the texting language becomes the norm!

  13. Novroz says:

    you have to ask a British who lives in that court…but they might hve different answer too.

    by the way, have you started talking in Brit accent yet? FYI, I love Brit accent 😉

    • TBM says:

      So many people that live in my neighborhood aren’t originally from here so I haven’t been able to get an answer that is satisfactorily.

      I also love the British accent, even though sometimes I struggle understanding it. Alas no, I haven’t picked up the accent. I have started using some of their lingo, but I say it in my American accent. I lived in Boston for six years and never picked up that accent either.

  14. Just another little thing which adds the the quirkiness of London! Love it!

    • TBM says:

      It is odd that’s for sure. If it was one or two signs that had conflicting spellings I wouldn’t have noticed or I might have assumed that it was just a typo. But they are all over, which makes me believe that no one really knows.

  15. I had a wonderful English teacher Miss McRory. About 4 ft 5 in tall, dressed like a man in grubby food stained clothes – totally eccentric but so on the ball about grammar. Miss McRory would have said WITH the apostrophe!

    • TBM says:

      4 ft 5 in tall in grubby clothes…great memory of a teacher. Even though she was shorter than me, I think I might have been scared of her and I would have used an apostrophe out of fear of being correct and not adhering to local custom.

  16. Kristina says:

    I am not surprised, it’s England! They like their own rules here and their own invented language 🙂 Well spotted 😀

  17. that(‘)s so interesting! i used to live in earl(‘)s court and never noticed. thank you for posting. cool blog!

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