I’ve witnessed some horrific abuses of grammar and punctuation over the years and it’s about time someone stood up for these poor little words and symbols that can’t stand up for themselves. With that, I give you the first installment in my campaign to end grammar and punctuation abuse.
I’m officially declaring it’s Apostrophe Awareness Month! Never has a tiny dot with a tail endured so much misuse. With your help, we can make a difference in apostrophe abuse by recognizing some of the worst offenders.
Being Too Possessive
“Free tequila shots before 11pm at Get Drunk Saturday’s inside the city’s hottest nightclub!”
Perhaps you’re trying to save trees by opting against a reprint for your club flyers, but this happens far too often for that excuse. Maybe the real reason is that you really like apostrophe and want to keep him around whenever you can. I can’t blame you — he is pretty cute.
Whatever your reason, please don’t force innocent little apostrophe to attend this party. He may be legal drinking age, he may even like free tequila, but he just can’t support parties that disrespect him by forcing him into inappropriate pluralizations. Next thing he knows, he’ll be waking up beside a semicolon wondering what the hell happened last night. He will gladly accept an invitation to Jager Bomb Wednesdays, however; he likes those.
“Why are you’re rules so confusing?!”
Much like common grammar abuses such as the ‘their’/’they’re’/’there’ plague that confuses people regularly, when an apostrophe is thrown in the mix, people seem to get even more confused.
Apostrophe doesn’t mean to make things difficult for you. In fact, he wants to help you communicate to the best of your ability whenever he can. Please understand that he needs to rest. Don’t use him when he’s not needed. In particular, never use him to combine the words ‘you’ and ‘are’ when what you really meant was ‘your’.
Making an A** of You and Me
“Punctuation’s unpredictability is part of it’s charm.”
Sometimes we make understandable assumptions regarding correct apostrophe use. In this case, one would think that his use at the end of this sentence is correct, considering the way he’s applied in the first part of the sentence. Wrong!
In punctuation, as in life, it’s dangerous to make assumptions. The apostrophe is special like a snowflake, and he refuses to be susceptible to logical rules, much like the English language. As such, he reserves the right to have special rules for his use, and for people to respect them.
Once you remember this one special rule, you’re on your way to a fulfilling relationship with apostrophe: something that belongs to someone or something should be referred to as ‘his’, ‘hers’, or ‘its’. The incorrect sentence above improperly used the contraction ‘it’s’, which actually means ‘it is’.
A Question of Whom
“I’ll tell you whose missing an apostrophe!”
At this point, you may be throwing your hands up in frustration, asking ‘Who does this apostrophe think he is?! How many special rules can one piece of punctuation have?!’
Apostrophe promises you, that even though he may be a complex fellow, he’ll always be consistent. For example, when you want to contract the words ‘who’ and ‘is’, he’s always happy to help. In the above sentence, the word ‘whose’ actually means, ‘belonging to whom’ (we’ll get into the who/whom debate later on in the campaign).
The Campaign Continues…
Are you confused by grammar and punctuation rules? Stick around! I’ll be covering more common mistakes as the campaign to end grammar and punctuation abuse continues.
Your punctuation pal,
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