All posts tagged apostrophe

Grammar of the Day – Apostrophe

The Apostrophe Protection Society website was created in 2001, and it looks like it. Never mind. It’s the content that matters, not the style. Right? That’s how it used to be, anyway. In the good old days when substance mattered more than appearance. And (coincidentally?) people knew how to use apostrophes. Go to the site and have a look. It has examples of badly used apostrophes. It even has a song called Apostrophe Apostasy.

They took a light-hearted approach to the fight to save the apostrophe, but they were serious about it. John Richards, the founder of the society, was appalled at the indignities being done to it and he and his many supporters fought hard to defend it. But Richards is getting old and the problem is only getting worse. It seems he has lost hope in the prospect of success. As he said in his resignation message, uncaring ignorance and laziness seem to be prevailing.

With regret I have to announce that, after some 18 years, I have decided to close the Apostrophe Protection Society. There are two reasons for this. One is that at 96 I am cutting back on my commitments and the second is that fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English Language. We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!

The society website has a FAQ for the use of the apostrophe. Or should that be an FAQ? It also has a lot of examples of misused apostrophes.

Go visit the Apostrophe Protection Society website, if only because it might be your last chance to see it. They say they’re going to continue, but it might be hard with the departure of their founder. Also see my earlier post on the apostrophe.


Credit Graham Horn - CC-BY-SA

Credit Graham Horn – CC-BY-SA

Grammar of the Day – Apostrophe

note: Dana Sallow kindly recommended another grammar website that they found both amusing and useful to them as a non-native English speaker. (See their comment below) The issue covered in this post from a Website Planet blog by Joshua Bromley is homophones. That is, words that sound alike but have different meanings.

Okay, so it’s really punctuation. I’m using it anyway.

The way the apostrophe is being used today has me nervous, afraid this sentence might turn out like this: The way the apostrophe i’s being used today ha’s me nervou’s, afraid thi’s sentence might turn out like thi’s. Sometimes it seems as if people just throw one in if the word ends in an ‘s.’

Credit Dirk Ingo Franke - CC-BY

Credit Dirk Ingo Franke – CC-BY

Granted that’s a bit extreme. But it’s not completely ridiculous. Just look at the epidemic of apostrophes happening now, especially on the Internet. Possibly the worst example is the use of an apostrophe to denote plurality. You see it everywhere, even in places where you’d least expect it. I frequent a forum called MobileRead. It’s populated by people who read. A lot. They love reading. They love talking about reading. They love writing about reading. And I often see sentences like, “How many book’s did you read last year?” there. I’m only slightly mollified by the fact that for many of the people there, English is not their first language. That only means that we’re starting them off on the wrong foot.

In my own town there’s a drug store called “Remedy’s.” So far I haven’t met the proprietor, Mr Remedy. I suspect he resented English class in school.

Here are a couple of links to the Quick and Dirty Tips website. One on the history of the apostrophe, and the other on when to use an apostrophe. Spoiler alert: the history of the apostrophe is not entirely rational. I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually became okay to use it for plurals. Plural’s? In fact, the posts above have examples of where we used to use them for some plurals, but don’t now. And where we still do use them for special plurals. It’s no wonder people get confused. And some get even.

Grammar is evolving. What is correct now was not always correct. What is correct in one place is not necessarily correct everywhere. But that is no excuse for not using what is correct here and now.

March 4th is National Grammar Day (America.)