Apostrophe Abuse is Real

by Katie on 2nd December, 2011

It’s no secret that I am deeply in love with the apostrophe.  I love its curvy little shape and I love its undying devotion to being useful. And because I love it so dearly, I feel its pain – the pain to which it is subjected on a daily basis.  I see it inserted into plurals where it doesn’t belong (my favourite from yesterday evening: Ladie’s.  The pain.  THE PAIN.); I see it left out of possessives where it belongs; I see it overlooked and overworked and I see it forced into positions from which there is apparently no escape for our valiant little apostrophe.

I’m not completely blameless, though.  When I was about ten, I clearly remembering being utterly confused about apostrophes and using them on a sort of pattern basis: when a word ended in an S and I’d gone a whole paragraph without using an apostrophe, one was clearly needed.  Somehow, I got it all sorted out in my head and now I’m quite liable to use my finger to scrub an unnecesary apostrophe off a menu board, or lament my handy lack of chalk so I could add one in.

I thought I’d seen it all until this arrived in my inbox yesterday morning:

Tis the season

At first, my mind completely blanked out this horrific case of apostrophe abuse and led me instead to the mis-quoted lyrics.  It’s Fa, not La, at the start there, thank-you very much.  And…  WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO THAT APOSTROPHE?  I could almost understand if it had gone between the T and the i, but no – it’s sitting randomly in a place where no apostrophe should ever be sent.  Why?  Why?  Is there seriously no-one in that workplace with a knowledge of grammar?  No-one who could come along and laugh uproariously at such ridiculousness before pointing them in the right direction?  No-one who could sit them down and ask what the hell they were on about with those random capital letters in there?

No-one at all?

I’m going to keep fighting the good fight for the apostrophes, but some days the battlefront looks very grim indeed.


P.S. For a handy refresher on how to use apostrophes (and not make me cry), try this link.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

nef December 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm

The worst part is that it is insidious. I’m a bad typist, so I’ll mistype words all the time. But when it comes to reading back what I’ve typed, misplaced apostrophes sometimes get missed as i am SO USED to seeing them misplaced that the error doesn’t even register (but then, i’ve come to realise that I might not have the soul of an editor – not really. I can do it, but my heart just isn’t in it …)

you should try reading affidavits – it’s soul destroying to see that smart people can’t spell (or their assistants can’t). I understand that charging by the hour doesn’t leave room for spelling correction, but your’e handing that thing up to a JUDGE! Don’t you have any pride?


Katie December 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Was that mis-placed apostrophe in your comment intentional? If not, it’s kind of hilarious and if so, it’s still hilarious.

It really is insidious – you’re right. I’ve found myself on the verge of using its in place of it’s quite a few times lately. And I always have to stop and think with who’s/whose. The English language is not an easy one to learn and I am glad on a daily basis that it’s my native language.


nef December 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Nope (although I am going to pretend that it was intentional). It was an example of my bad typing and lack of read through skills (I am always scared that someone will come in just when I am not doing work). I proved my point!

BTW, I am down your way for the next two weeks! I love my job!


Katie December 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Paranoia always overtakes me when I write posts about grammar or spelling – I’m pretty much guaranteed to let in some horrible typo or inadvertent error.

Huzzah for work travel! What are your plans?


Melbourne on my mind December 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

Oh. My. God. That’s horrific… My pet peeve is when people use an S after an apostrophe on a word that ends in S. Like James’s. I know it’s increasingly conventional to do it, but it just makes me cringe. James’ is sufficient, dammit!!


Katie December 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm

It’s a little soul-destroying, isn’t it?

I thought I had the name apostrophe thing sorted out and then a university lecturer introduced us some rule that just changed everything again. Every time you think you know English, it decides to dredge up some old rule, just to keep us on our toes.


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