I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. It’s such an insignificant little mark you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….
….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!
That’s why I’m a member of the Apostrophe Protection Society (www.apostrophe.org.uk).
So, let’s have a quick look at when an apostrophe should be used.
Firstly, it’s used to show that something belongs to someone, e.g.
Singular nouns and personal names:
The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.
John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.
Personal names that end in –s:
Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles
BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, such as:
St Thomas’ Hospital
BUT St James’s Palace is an exception to that rule. How confusing is that?
Plural nouns that end in –s:
The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs
Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees
Plural nouns not ending in –s:
The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men
The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children
The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women
Secondly, it’s used to show that letters have been left out, e.g.
I’m – is short for ‘I am’
They’re – is short for ‘they are’
Didn’t – is short for ‘did not’
He’ll – is short for ‘he will’
It’s – is short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’
The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and is used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.
In the words of a well-known TV meerkat, “Simples” or is it?
If you’d like to know more about how I could help you, please give me a call – 07843 304743 – to arrange a FREE initial OopsProof Meeting. Remember, if you are proofreading your own writing, you’re using valuable time and money that you could usefully be employing elsewhere in your business. I can give that time back to you so you can use it more cost effectively.
If you find writing in your business a bit of a challenge, then you should read my book – Confident Business Writing. I have developed a simple 7 step plan to help you overcome your worst fears about writing.