Letter: 71st or 70th? Numbers and words can be tricky
Congratulations, town of Faith, on your 71st celebration in observance of Independence Day. You started a good thing 70 years ago.
This is a letter about counting and words — first the counting. If you happen to have been born on this day in 2007, this would be your 10th birthday, right? The day you were born is not counted as your first birthday; what we really mean by “birthday” is the anniversary of the date of your birth. If, however, someone created an event in 2007 and repeated it every year up to and including this year, this year’s event would be the eleventh one.
So now let’s turn to the words. If your grandmother has passed (not for 350 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception, but rather, into eternity), is she your descendant or your ancestor, or both? The euphemism for death that I learned was “passed away,” but the “away” part has gone away (or should we say “passed”). And if Na Na has not yet passed, is she your descendant, your ancestor, or both? This one is up to you, but you get a hint; neither correct answer is “both.”
— Richard Brisbin