Welcome to Apostrophe Class
Please take your seat and let’s review what hasn’t changed since the apostrophe was invented in _______ (fill in the blank if you know what year).
Before we start class, please be aware that we are focusing on apostrophes today and not on complete sentences or the proper use of commas. You will understand that as you continue reading.
First, here are some examples of the most common and incorrect ways to use an apostrophe.
At a school…no less.
Photo courtesy of Liz Henry
Photo courtesy of noiseburst
From an Atlanta Journal Constitution article that has since been corrected…
They then taped its mouth shut and bound it’s legs so that state wildlife officers could transport it to South Georgia.
Got the first one right.
Possessive – no apostrophe
Second one wrong.
Still possessive – apostrophe should not be used.
I know the screenshot proof is tiny but if you click it you can read the full, corrected article about the alligator and its mouth and legs.
Side note: At a later time, let’s discuss what you would do if you saw a 5 foot alligator walking through your front yard. Dacula is a small town right next to us.
The way I remember this and most other quirky grammar rules is to read aloud. Or read it aloud in my head. Does anyone else do that? Chime in and tell me how you read aloud in your head and that I’m not crazy.
I know the “its” and “it’s” thing is confusing because you are suppose to add an apostrophe to make a word possessive and just add an “s” to make it plural. This is the backward exception to the general rules of possessive and plural. Add in contraction rules and people seem to glaze over.
The point is that I know that it’s is the contraction of it is (or “it has”) and that is what I say in my head.
For this example I would say “it is mouth” and “it is legs” and know quite clearly that I do NOT need the apostrophe because
it’s it is possessive.
Here are two great tutorials regarding apostrophes:
Apostrophe Catastrophe (Part One)
Apostrophe Catastrophe (Part Two)
Here is the only exception to these apostrophe rules.
This is a great story of a typo that actually defines a company. I’ve known this story for years because visiting the Lands’ End outlet store in Madison, Wisconsin has been a favorite bargain shopping trip for my family since the early 80’s.
Fun company. Great products. Nicest towels we’ve ever owned both bath and beach. “Guaranteed. Period.®” is their policy and so many companies could learn extraordinary customer service from them!
Best of all, it’s a great lesson that we all make mistakes and I love the commitment they made to embrace the mistake.
I still believe we should all make a commitment to proof and proof again and ask someone else to proof our work. Most typos seem lazy to me and correcting them takes little effort while sending out a message that says,
“I still care about and respect our English language.”
I guess I’m old-fashioned like that.
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