It’s An Apostrophe, Charlie Brown!

This is a public service message.

This is a rant.

Hmmmm…

This is a public service rant.

The single biggest threat to American civilization is the pandemic misunderstanding of the proper use of the apostrophe

Knowing when and why to use an apostrophe is what separates us from bacteria

There oughta be a law

The apostrophe. It’s safe to say that its role in written English is a key to clarity. So, it’s time to rescue this punctuation mark from where it should never be used, and return it to its rightful place(s).

Note: If you want a shortcut to the whole enchilada on apostrophes, here it’s.

Still here? Very good.

(A) I can’t ride my bike because its tire is flat.
(B) I can’t ride my bike because it’s tire is flat.

(A) Mildred’s taste in children’s clothes was hideous.
(B) Mildred’s taste in childrens clothes was hideous.

(A) They’ve had too many snowstorms this winter!
(B) They’ve had too many snowstorm’s this winter!

apostrophe.panhandling signOK, look: it would be nice if everyone in America (who claims or wishes to communicate in English) could learn why all the above (A) sentences are correct, and all the (B) sentences are incorrect. But everyone in America can’t even learn why one shouldn’t leave a loaded gun on a table in a room where children are playing…

So, my goal with this post is less ambitious. I want to rid the world of the scourge of using the apostrophe+s (‘s) to form a plural. I know, I know… I know you’re thinking, “Steve, you and what army?!” But I’ve gotta try. I’ve been noticing this popping up with alarming frequency from one end of the internet to the other.

bakerysign.apostrophes

Not if it’s the last bakery on earth.

Dudes, srsly: Your ride may be sweet, but please don’t tell me it’s better than all the other bros’ car’s!

And girlfriend: Just because other girls like to ride in Justin’s car, it doesn’t make them ho’s!

The only time to use an apostrophe to make the plural form of a word is NEVER. As in never never never never never never never never never. Never. NEVER!

More than one apple is apples, not apple’s.
More than one pizza is pizzas, not pizza’s.
Mulitple choice involves choices, not choice’s.
And so on…

So, there’s one microscopic little exception to this rule. And it’s not really even an exception, as much as an acceptable practical reason for using ‘s to form a plural – and it’s stylistic and optional. If you want to know, you’ll have to go to Oxford University.

That’s all.

P.S. That is not all. If you’re unsure whether to use IT’S or ITS… just think of the apostrophe in IT’S as a shriveled up letter i. Because that’s what it is. When you see it’s, pronounce the ‘ as if it’s an i. You’ll never misuse it again. Guaranteed.

The word it’s ALWAYS means “it is” (or “it has”). It NEVER forms a possessive.
The word its ALWAYS is a possessive. It NEVER means “it is”.

I know YOU know all of this. Now, make the world a better place: go share it with someone who is apostrophically challenged.

 


The End (so far)

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14 comments

  1. I AM a grammar nazi. Happily for me, the people I converse with via my blog are all highly literate and never get my back up. How I was lucky enough to find ’em, I dunno; but there they all are, writing with ne’er an apostrophe outa place. LUCKY MOI !!! 😀

    Like

  2. I take issue with you, Steve: “The word it’s ALWAYS means “it is”. It NEVER forms a possessive.”
    My issue is that it’s can also mean IT HAS. “It’s been a lovely friendship, but …” [grin]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As an English teacher who winces every time I see a misuse of the apostrophe, thank you for this post. To txbridgefarmer, yes, that isI another bone of contention. The incorrect use of “good” and “well” is my pet peeve, as my students well knew. One day, I arrived at school to find a hall-length poster proclaiming “Play good, Crespi!” in preparation for a football game. I grabbed my thick, black pen, crossed out “good” and replaced it with “well.” At the end of the hall were some of my senior students laughing. “We had bets on how long it would take you to correct it,” they said. It was good they knew me so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, plurals are the worst offender, but I fear that nothing short of painful punishments will cure it. Or wait until the technological singularity puts planet-sized brains into every citizen.

    Like

  5. Hear hear! Wait. That wasn’t grammatically correct, was it?
    In all seriousness, I can relate. I’m by no means a “grammar nazi” but my pet peeve is the incorrect use of the words there, their and they’re. I can forgive a misprint from time to time but when I see someone repeatedly write, “There car had a flat” it just gets under my skin.

    Liked by 1 person

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