Some time ago, I announced on Twitter that I was giving up the fight over the apostrophe. I felt defeated. Some smart people – and a lot of dumb ones – still don’t know (or don’t care) when it’s supposed to be used. I decided I’d never win the fight so I waved a white hanky in surrender.
Twitter followers responded with horror! If I’m not fighting apostrophe crimes, then who am I? It’s entrenched in my identity. Some have gone so far as to call me a Grammar Nazi when the highest rank I achieved was Apostrophe Major.
So, I’ve been shrugging my shoulders and silently saying “what evs” whenever I see an apostrophic crime being committed. However, one day last week as I was driving along in blissful silence it occurred to me that if there was a simple way to remember when to use it, people might finally get it.
The trouble is, I believe, that many people are unsure about were the little punctuation mark goes, so they plop it in there just in case. That’s how more than one salad becomes (shudder) salad’s, and multiple swimwear sets turn into bathing suit’s.
Excuse me for a moment, please.
Thank you, I’m better now.
In the spirit of, “I before E, except after C”, I present my apostrophe rules rhyme:
More than one, it’s not done. If they own it then you’ve thrown it.
Only its is the exception, unless it is, is what you mention.
Making two words into one, apostrophe is how it’s done. ”
Let’s break it down. For a simple plural as in more than one table or chair, “it’s not done”. You don’t need an apostrophe: tables, chairs, brains, nerves, moods.
If they own it, then you’ve thrown it! “Lisa’s blog.” “Erin’s book”. ” Derek’s crazy wife.”
The its/it’s conundrum messes up a lot of people. Think of its as the only case where something is showing ownership and an apostrophe isn’t used. When it’s a person, use the apostrophe. When it’s an it, don’t.
Making two words into one: contractions require an apostrophe. It’s (it is) the best thing ever. We’ll (we will) remember this. It’ll (it will) make you famous. I’m (I am) going to spread this far and wide until Oprah invites you for an interview!
More than one, it’s not done. If you own it, then you’ve thrown it. Only its is the exception, unless it is, is what you mention. Making two words into one, apostrophe is how it’s done.
Sure, English is a difficult language and writing is hard. Everybody makes mistakes. But some people don’t even try not to! To those people I say, get rhyming!
Okay, NOW I’m done with the apostrophe, until I get the call from Oprah!