Sunday, October 3, 2010

'Splaining Apostrophes

by Marsha Ward

Repeat after me: "I pledge not to throw apostrophes into my writing without thinking about whether they are appropriate or not. I will not use them in making nouns plural. I will not use them in the word 'its' unless I mean the contraction of 'it is'."

A noun is a person, place, or thing. If you ate two almonds, you don't need an apostrophe. A sign saying Condos for rent doesn't need an apostrophe. If two cars collide, no apostrophe is needed to describe the event.

Apostrophes are used to make contractions and to show possession for SOME words. That is called possessive. Exceptions are words like his, her (and hers) and . . . wait for it . . . ITS!

You wouldn't think of writing "Hi's brother went to ...the store," or "That's not her's," would you? Tell me you wouldn't.

I can use the apostrophe in "wouldn't" because it is (or it's) a contraction: two words we've come to squish together. The second word is usually "is," which is where that so-often-misused-but-not-in-this-case "apostrophe s" comes from when we drop the "i" and bump the "s" up against the previous word. The apostrophe reminds us that we've left something out, like a letter or two. We have, indeed, left out the "ha" in the last sentence's "we've." Note the possessive form of "sentence". Yes, it has the apostrophe followed by the s.

That's enough for today's lesson, folks. Go forth and think about correct apostrophe usage today. :-)

No, don't come after me for the over usage of quotation marks. They have their place (but not they're or there place).


  1. Often, when I'm typing very fast, I type it's for its. It's just a bad habit. But I do know when to and when not to! : )

  2. This is a good reminder. I always have to stop and think about apostrophes.

  3. I keep thinking of what prophet (no I'm sorry I can't remember) who said don't use grammer gimmicks like apostrophe's in your journal entries. The next and future generations won't get it. But notice I can't seem to stop, ha.

  4. A very clever post and a great reminder. Here's to you!

  5. Love this post, Marsha. You are so clever!


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