Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Sep 12, 2011.
Do we write M and M's or M and Ms? Apostrophe or not?
M&M's, (u like peanuts or plain?) lol
Though we can't use ampersands in prose, even for product titles.
In prose, you do use the ampersand if it is part of the product trademark.
Even in dialog?
yes... since it's a trademark-registered brand name, you need to show it as it appears on the product [M&M'S]...
And the apostrophe is part of the trademark, which makes the decision so much easier!
Thanks for the input, everyone. I'll keep the ampersand.
I do remember a thread, though, where some people said you can't use symbols in dialog no matter what (titles included). What makes the ampersand special?
The thread you are thinking of referred to numbers, not symbols. You spell out numbers because there are different ways most numbers can be voiced, and dialogue is specific.
Nothing makes the ampersand special. The trademark makes anything covered by the trademark special. If somebody trademarks $€@#* and you want to refer to the product then you call it $€@#*. Although I venture to suggest that narrative and dialogue might differ, because nobody is going to say "$€@#*", they're going to say "dollar euro at hash star" or "That company with a name that's just a mass of punctuation."
In dialogue, you can write it how it sounds or how it's spoken. You don't need to use the trademarked name or the ampersand in dialogue, especially considering some pronounce them as em-em's and others, em'n'em's, and so on. Of course, you can use the trademark name if you like, too.
if you don't use the trademarked version in dialog as well as in narrative, the reader might not know you mean the candy and may take it to mean something else... for instance, i believe there's a musical group by the name of 'eminem' so a phonetic spelling can spell confusion for your readers...
I type corrected. I'll use the ampersand, then, for the Eminem reason, just because it saves space, and because it looks more familiar to readers.
Meh, just use the prose to explain it if it's really confusing.
Barney held out his hands. "Do ya have any em-em's?"
M&M's. Reynolds nodded.
The difference between a musical group and chocolate candy is quite a lot also, so most likely the context will avoid any such confusion. If it doesn't, just use the prose to explain it the first time. I also believe you'd need to capitalize 'Eminem' when speaking about the musical group but not the phonetics of M&M's. Anyway, not arguing with you, certainly clarity is an issue, but there are a lot of words and "things" out there that sound and look alike and we leave it up to the readers to distinguish them. All in all, you're safe going with M&M's, but if you want to spell out the way it sounds, you're not wrong either. Have a good reason for doing it and make sure it's clear and you should be okay.
I think the reader will know from the type of novel whether characters are likely to put any part of Marshall Mathers in their mouths.
Separate names with a comma.