Of all the punctuation marks we have, I feel bad for the apostrophe the most. Why? Out of all the punctuation marks, the apostrophe seems to be the one that everyone misuses. In fact, several websites even compiled list of signs, ads, and other public media that misused the apostrophe. (In case you don’t believe me, go to www.apostropheabuse.com or www.apostrophecatastrophes.com.) There’s even a society for the proper use of apostrophes! (Again, here’s the link for you nonbelievers: www.apostrophe.org.uk.)
Apostrophes are a simple thing. They are used in possessives and contractions. Plurals don’t need an apostrophe. See, the rules are that simple. Regardless, a lot of people enjoy dropping apostrophes where there need not be any.
As with many other things that compromised the English language, the Internet has brought about the downfall of the apostrophe. Web addresses don’t use apostrophes (macys.com, mcdonalds.com, wendys.com). Moreover, speed typing has caused shorthand spelling and, you guessed it, dropping punctuation marks.
Other than that, the overuse of apostrophes also happen. For some reason, many people think that pluralizing nouns require the addition of the letter “s” and an apostrophe (kid’s, house’s, onion’s). Others tend to add apostrophe and “s” to an already plural word, thinking it would make it plural (men’s and ladies’).
But the rules on the use of the apostrophe are easy to remember. When in doubt, ask the following questions:
Are you making a singular noun plural? If yes, no need to add an apostrophe, just the “s.”
Are you indicating the possession of a singular noun? If yes, add the apostrophe and the “s.”
Are you indicating the possession of a plural noun? If yes, add just the apostrophe.
Does the plural noun not end in “s”? If yes, add both apostrophe and “s.”
Is the singular noun proper and not ending in “s”? If yes, add both apostrophe and “s.”
Does the singular proper noun end in “s”? If yes, you can add either apostrophe and “s” or just the apostrophe.
Is it a contraction? If yes, use an apostrophe.
Yes, the English language evolves, and this evolution is the result of a thriving society. However, this cannot be an excuse for poor grammar. These rules exist to avoid confusion and to make everyone communicate better.
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