Monday, May 12, 2014

"Say What?" Part 12: If There's An "S," You Better Apostrophe The Hell Outta That

(Seen literally everywhere, from internet posts, flyers and advertisements, published books(!!!), to signs for businesses. I mean, really, you'd think the sign-makers, ad-writers, and AUTHORS would have spellchecked their shit first. Apparently not.)


Yes, you. The people who do this. The people who rampantly and wantonly stick an apostrophe in any time there's an "S" at the end of a word. Literally, every damn time. For instance:

"I bought my grocerie's at the store."

"I put the puppy's in the yard."

"When I push the button, it gray's out."

I have one word for you: 

There's a difference between possessives and plurals. No really, I am not making this up.  There's also a difference between a contraction with the word "is" and plurals. (Again, those sneaky, tricksy contractions!) No really, there's a fucking difference, and it's about time you learned it.

Plural = more than one. One apple, five apples. One leaf, a hundred leaves. Note the distinct lack of apostrophes used to denote the plural form of the noun. THERE ISN'T ONE, THERE WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE ONE, DON'T PUT ONE IN.

Possessive = the subject owns it/has it. That is Ben's car. That is the dog's bone. The star's light is bright. In these examples, Ben owns a car, the dog has a bone, the star has bright light. They own or have something. Apostrophe use is appropriate.

Contractions with "is" = a contraction (please see this and this post about contractions if you're still confused by them). She's going to the doctor. The car's rolling down the street. The sky's blue. In these examples, she is going to the doctor, the car is rolling down the street, the sky is blue. IS, bitches. IS.

This is really easy, folks. All you have to do is think about it before you write it. Is the world a plural? Is the word denoting ownership of something? Or can the word be broken down into two words, such as [word] is? 

Easy peasy. Really easy. Here, you try. In your mind, circle the correct answer.

Dogs:  Plural   Possessive   Contraction

Dog's toy: Plural   Possessive   Contraction

Dog's running: Plural   Possessive   Contraction

Now, what to do if you have a plural word, AND the plural owns something? This is also easy. You put the damn apostrophe on the outside of the "S."

The dogs' bowl of water.

The girls' dolls are in the room.

The only potentially tricksy use of the apostrophe is brought to us by the word "it." "It" has slightly different rules, but this is only to avoid confusion. All you really need to know is that an apostrophe is only used for "it is." Really. That's the only time.

Its = It owns/has something.

It's = It is.

As of now, you have no excuse. No.  Excuse. Just because there's (there is) an "S," it does not mean an apostrophe goes in the word. The apostrophe has a purpose, you see, one you recklessly malign every time you use it the wrong way. You also cause tics in those of us who know better and see this hideous abuse of the apostrophe.

So, before you add that sweet little mark, stop and ask yourself if it's (it is) really necessary. Give it a moment. Run through the super-easy rules in your head. And only proceed when you're sure, absolutely sure, that the apostrophe needs to be there.

For the pictures above--

*Employees and Sundays, and you're welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment