Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Review of Apostrophes

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. Hi, Marsha.

    I read this yesterday and tried to leave a comment but I've forgotten my password. I'll try again! Anyway, I have to watch my "its" without the apos!

  2. It's abvout time! Excellent!


  3. Since I have an apostrophe in my name, the misuse of them is sort of my pet peeve!

  4. Anonymous7:29 AM

    Great post, Marsha. I'm pretty good with apostrophes, but occasionally get confused with group possession. I understand girl's and girls' okay, but I'm still stumped by "American Night Writers Association" which does NOT have an apostrophe. Right? But doesn't the Association belong to the writers? How about Mothers' Day? I see it written both ways. Please make that your next in series--

    Wendy Jones

  5. well written, Marsha. I still find I have to stop and think about it whenever I use an apostrophe. Dennis asked me about something to do with that just the other day. And, my kids through the years have tortured themselves over it. :-)
    Thanks for your e-mail. I was thinking about you just the other day. I went to Dale Watkins viewing last night and was filled with memories of Taylor Park Ward. Hope you are doing well. love's :-), Susan

  6. Thanks for reading my blog and a warm welcome to BlogginCurly. Apostrophes or a pa'n 'n the you know w'at.

  7. The everyday usage isn't too much of a problem for me, but I came upon an interesting one that I recently used in my blog that had me stumped. The word was author-to-be pluralized. Author-to-bes didn't look right so I used author-to-be's. Was that correct?

  8. I'm glad you made it, Kathleen.

    Hi Geraldine. Thanks for visiting.

    You have a good reason to watch apostrophe usage around you, D'Ann.

    Remind me to address both of those, Wendy.

    Thanks, Susan. I went to the funeral today and got the same wash of nostalgia.

    LOL! Thanks Oscar. I'll be back.

    Renae, actually, what you do in such cases is make the noun plural: authors-to-be, mothers-in-law or Books of Mormon.


I welcome your comments.

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