Apostrophe Catastrophe

Here's a sign that needs to vomit apostrophes. An eyesore and a horrible waste of black ink. There are other punctuation violations on this sign, but I will focus on the uses and misuses of the apostrophe.

So, what are the appropriate uses of this tadpole-looking punctuation mark? They are fewer than we think:

1) to indicate possession
2) for the omission of numbers in dates and letters in contractions
3) to indicate the plural of letters
4) to indicate the plural of words

Use the apostrophe to indicate possession.

I've been to Derek's office many times.
Sometimes I have to use the employees' entrance.

There are other more complex rules for the use of the apostrophe in indicating possession. But I don't want to confuse you with too much information so we will leave that for another day. Or you can check out the sources listed at the bottom of this post.

Use the apostrophe to replace letters and numbers that are omitted.

Who's going with me to the Summer Lovin' '08 concert?
I'm going to join you.

As you can see the apostrophe replaced the letter i in "who is," the letter g in
loving, the numbers 20 in 2008 and the letter a in I am. Good job, apostrophe.

Use the apostrophe for the plural of letters

Mara needs to improve her diction; she sometimes has trouble with her f's and p's.

Use the apostrophe for the plural of words.

I'm glad I can explain to you the do's and don'ts of apostrophe usage.

So here are the don'ts.

Don't use apostrophes for the plural form of nouns.

That sign should read: "We provide rubbish bins for you. Please do not throw napkins and tissue paper into the bowl.

Don't use apostrophes for the plural form of nouns using abbreviations.
Her collection of CDs is priceless.
Even professional DJs are in awe.

I hope this post helps you avoid apostrophe catastrophes. It will make me happy and we will save us some ink.

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
Comma Sutra by Laurie Rozakis
How Not to Write by Terence Denman


  1. Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D. said...
    I'm Laurie Rozakis, the author of Comma Sutra. Thank you for using my book.
    Ed Ebreo said...
    Hey Ge, have you seen Laurie Rozakis' blog? She mentioned you:
    David Williams said...
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