Grammar Lesson: The Apostrophe

Everyone has their pet peeves.  Mine, sadly, is purely grammatical.  I know, I know… Siobhan’s a nerd.  But you have to understand that she can’t help it.  She was predisposed to it…which is why she writes.

(Yes, I see that I keep slipping into third person when speaking of myself… don’t ask where that came from, because I DON’T KNOW.)

 

 

The most commonly misused grammatical mark, at least that I have seen, is the apostrophe.  It still dumbfounds me just how many people DO NOT KNOW the proper usage.

An apostrophe denotes possession.  It means that the item or action in question is owned by a person, place, or thing.

Because when writing stories humans are apt to make mistakes, have typos, and generally be too technical or accidental for a standard word processor’s spell-check to catch things, I can forgive most of those problems.  What I cannot forgive is when someone of professional status incorrectly uses an apostrophe on his or her BUSINESS NAME.

Example.

A business where I live has the tagline Serving the Carolina’s and it pisses me off every single time I drive past the place.   I find myself wanting to stop, go inside, snatch the owner across the counter, and scream at him (or her) until I can’t breathe anymore for making the business look so freaking unprofessional.  I want to take white-out to their signs.

I want people to learn this very simple rule, and take it to heart.

If you want to pluralize something, just add an s.  If you want to show that someone or something owns someone or something else, then you can use your apostrophe.  To explain:

Carolinas = plural (as in North and South Carolina together)

Carolina’s = possessive (are we talking about a girl named Carolina?  And what does she own?)

See?  Easy-peasy.

But Siobhan… what happens if something belongs to a group of people?

Easy.  You move the apostrophe to the end of the word.   Say we want to talk about the beaches of the Carolinas.

The Carolinas’ Beaches.

See what I did there?  I just switched those two around.    You’re talking about both Carolinas, and something that belongs to them.  Plurality always takes precedence over possessiveness.

So what happens when the person’s name ends with an s? Where do I put the apostrophe then?

Again, simple.  The apostrophe goes at the end.  Say Jess owns a dog.

Jess’ dog.

Again, easy.

But isn’t that plural?

No.  No it isn’t.  Want to know why?  Because we’re talking about a person.  One person.  One person who owns something.  And Jess might not be too happy if you try to tell her that there is more than one of her.

Yeah, I get it… now what about contractions?

That’s a different lesson, however, if you intend to use a contraction, please know what both words in it are.

can’t = can not

won’t = will not

y’all = you all

(this one irks me… it is not ya’ll BECAUSE THERE IS NO FUCKING A IN THE WORD YOU.  If you don’t believe me, then you are likely not from the South.  We do things a special way here.)

[Lesson End]

Yesterday, I was behind a truck on my way to lunch, and as many of them do around here, the tailgate had an advertisement for a business on it.  This one, I am so glad to say, was grammatically perfect.  I had the urge to follow the poor guy up into the Wal-Mart parking lot and thank him for driving a truck that looked smart.  I thought twice about it, though, because I had Lexxx in the car and she probably would have killed me.  Or at the very least, disowned me for being too dorky for association.

I can’t help it.  This really annoys me.  So please, people… MIND YOUR APOSTROPHES!

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2 responses to “Grammar Lesson: The Apostrophe

  1. OMG, are you the child I didn’t know I had?
    Were you a student of the Queen of English?

    All I can say is a heartfelt, if dated, Right on, Sister, right on.

    I do think you’re too easy on writers. Editing, that’s a good thing!

    MM the Queen of English
    http://queenofenglish.wordpress.com

    • Hehe… I paid attention in middle school. 🙂 From the sound of it, you and I could be great friends.

      And I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m easy on writers… I can understand the accidental mistakes (in a draft) a bit better than I can something that has been produced and slapped on a truck or a building.

      Just wait until I hit the rant about commas…

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