Life Coach Magazine

Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

Rules for Apostrophe

My family refuses to enter a restaurant with me until they have conducted a search and seize, emptying my purse of anything that even resembles a writing instrument. They tell me they are not going to tolerate waiting to order while I correct, “Its the best!” or “Joes’ Diner loves it’s customers.”

Apostrophes. Little marks that leave big impressions. As Richards Lederer and Dowis remark in Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lay, good editors would never allow “apostrophe catastrophes.”Here are four main uses of an apostrophe:1. To show that you are omitting numbers (Easter ’07) or letters if you are attempting to imitate speechhangin’ by a thread.

2. To form plurals of single numbers and letters( NOT to form plurals of words).

Emma knows her ABCs because her parents are Ph.Ds who were both born in the 1980s. 3. To form contractions (NOT as in labor and delivery).I’m, you’ve, we’ll, they’ll, can’t, won’tGenerally, the apostrophe takes the place of a letter or letters in a contracted form.

4. To form possessives. Here’s where apostrophe rules become somewhat snarly. So, just for now, I’m going to highlight some of the more catastrophic errors.

It’s = It is Its = possessive form, shows ownership

The dog wags its tail when it’s ready to eat.

You’re = You are Your = possessive form, shows ownership

When your first book is published, you’re delirious with joy. (or so I hear…)

When two or more words function as a unit or show joint ownership, use the possessive form with the last word only.

Fred’s and Mary’s computer: suggests two computers: Fred’s and Mary’s

Fred and Mary’s computer: suggests one computer (and perhaps some domestic squabbling if one of them is a writer)   To form the possessive of a singular noun, add an apostrophe AND an s, even if the noun ends in s.

My daughter’s husband is a chef.Now, there are a number of exceptions (of course) to this rule.

ancient proper names: Achilles’ Moses’ Jesus’   the other exceptions depend on whether you are using The

Chicago Manual of Style, The New York Stylebook or Strunk and White. (example: boss’ vs. boss’s). I suggest erring on the side of the rule.

Fasten your seatbelts on this one: To form the possessive of a plural noun, add an apostrophe; HOWEVER, if the plural is irregular (children, men, people), add an apostrophe and an s.

Remember: make the noun plural FIRST, then make it possessive.

My brother snips off all the pillows’ tags before he uses them.My children’s baby books are stored in a fireproof safe.My kids’ toys have created an obstacle course in my house.Owl Online Writing Lab suggests this nifty test to determine if you even need to step into the mine field of apostrophes:

To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an “of the…” phrase.

      For example: the boy’s hat = the hat of the boy

If the noun after “of” is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, then no apostrophe is needed!

      room of the hotel = hotel room

Go forth and apostrophe with confidence!

Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes
Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog