’’’’’’’’’APOSTROPHE ALERT’’’’’’’’’

àTo find out more about when to use—and not to use—the apostrophe, and examples of mistakes people make, please visit the The Apostrophe Protection Society:  http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/

Most people have terrible problems with the apostrophe. We never cease to wonder at this, for the rules here are pretty straightforward. Moreover, it’s harder to understand a text where the appropriate rules are not observed.  Lastly, this is one easy way of separating good writers from others. So, if you are a lousy apostropher, please, please, read the following and, for the next few weeks, ask yourself while you edit your work: Did I follow the simple rules for the use of the apostrophe?

We must begin with plurals. In English we say:

One boy / two boys

One lady / five ladies

One kiss / one million kisses

We must next move third person singular verbs:  She sings; he twists and shouts; it purrs,

Note the ABSENCE of any apostrophe whatsoever above. We simply add an s, or a ies, or es—nothing more: 5 bozos; she walks.

But, unlike Spanish or Hebrew, English has a wonderful way of saying that something belongs to someone.

First, let’s look up the etymology, and learn how to pronounce and spell, apostrophe at:  http://m-w.com/

Here is how we use it:

Hat of the boy = The boy’s hat

The daughter of Don = Don’s daughter

The praise of the Dalai Lama = The Dalai Lama’s praise

The e-mail of everybody = Everybody’s e-mail

But what do we do when we wish to say that something belongs to more than one person or object? It’s the same rule, but here we must remember that the s is part of the word, so the apostrophe appears on the right:

The hat of the boys = The boys’ hat

The hobbies of the dogs = The dogs’ hobbies

The trip of the vets = the vets’ trip

Profiles of students = Students’ profiles

English has another great invention, relying on the apostrophe:  contractions: I don’t (do not); it’s (it is) up to you; I won’t (will not) do it.

That’s (almost) all there is to it. We do use apostrophes for possessives (Donna’s nose) and contractions (Donna doesn’t have a nose).  We don’t use them for plurals (5 noses) and third person singular verbs (Donna talks).  Now, do you really want to go on botching something that simple for the rest of your life, or are you willing to take a hard look at these rules, and conscientiously apply them to your work until they become second nature?

OK, study these rules for a while with your neighbors.  Now, you know that in some places they have a national poet.  Here in Michigan, we even have the State Troubadour (who is it?  You don’t know who it is—in that case, let’s listen to him--http://www.neilwoodward.com/sound/mp3/peacechant.mp3!).  So, now we’re going to ask you a few questions, asking you to decide whether an apostrophe is called for, and, if so, where.   We’ll work it out as a competition, and the winner will henceforth receive the official title of Class Apostropher. 

A curtsey is being contemplated, but has not yet been officially decided upon.

Sounds:  Way off       All Wrong     Pitching

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