Friday, June 8, 2012

Apostrophes or Apostrophe's?

Apostrophes are among the most misunderstood grammatical markings in the English language, second only to the comma.  While the rules of the comma are somewhat flexible, the rules of the apostrophe are not.  My blood pressure is normally low, but I can literally feel it rising when I see the apostrophe misused.

Maybe I need to relax and let things slide. Then again, maybe people just need to use this mark correctly.

The main rule for apostrophes is not complex.  Here it is:  apostrophes show possession.

That's it.  It's not difficult nor does it require a college degree to understand.  Apostrophes are used to tell us when a thing belongs to something or someone.  They are not used to make a word plural.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

1.  The moms met together for lunch.
Here, the word "moms" is plural.  It is used to tell us that there is more than one mom at lunch.  Notice the lack of apostrophe as it is not needed.

2.  I wore my mom's wedding dress on my own wedding day.
Here, the word "mom's" shows possession.  It tells us that the wedding dress of which we are speaking belongs to mom.  It speaks of the singular  mom (only one).  The apostrophe is necessary.

Oh, and I did, indeed, wear my mother's wedding dress the day I got married.  :)

3.  The moms' group raised money for the school.
Here, the word "moms'" also shows possession, but for more than one mom.  Just as the "moms" went to lunch, there's more than one.  In this sentence,  the group belongs to these mothers.  Therefore, an apostrophe is needed.  Because there is already an 's' in the plural form, there is not another 's' added after the apostrophe.  This leads to a quick example of one of the most complex rules regarding the apostrophe...

4.  Jesus's disciples followed Him.
In this case, the name 'Jesus' ends in an 's'.  Because His name is not a plural form, we do add an 's' after the apostrophe.

I truly hope this helps some of you.  I truly hope you begin to use apostrophes correctly from now on.  It will reflect much better on you and it will enable me to have a future that is free of high blood pressure medication.

*In one of the comments in the last post, it is mentioned that blogs are not expected to follow the traditional rules of writing.  While this is true to a small degree, it does not include misspellings and blatantly incorrect punctuation.  Bloggers are given the liberty to ignore paragraph & common sentence structure, to a degree.  For instance, in the above post, my second paragraph is only two sentences long.  This is not the traditional structure, but is acceptable in the blogosphere.  Also, the occasional fragmented sentence is allowed for emphasis, as well.  
Please keep the comments coming.  While I may not respond to each, I do read them, love them, and enjoy the thoughts they provoke.*


Erin said...

I think the comment I left on your last post may have been misunderstood. While I personally expect that ALL forms of published writing (signs, blogs, articles, books) should be properly edited for grammar and spelling, this is apparently not the consensus of the rest of the world. For a time, I actively pursued editing blogs (as a profession). The sad truth is that there is just no market for this. Bloggers, in general, feel that they should be able to edit their posts as much or as little as they like. They're certainly not going to spend hours poring over it, nor are they going to hire it out (this would take too long in regards to turn-around time). Don't believe me? See for yourself what others are saying:

Or this one:

I have a friend who blogs professionally, and while she is happy to have me edit her e-books, she has no desire to have her blog posts so thoroughly scrutinized.

Oh, and by the way, the last paragraph of your post (before the italicized section) should read: It will reflect much better on you and it will enable me to have "a" future that is free of high blood pressure medication. :)

Jamie Parfitt said...

Why would the "a" be in quotes? I thought you did that only when you want to point out the letter of the alphabet, as I just did (though I tried to word it some other way).

Jamie Parfitt said...

Oh, and by the way, Rod and Staff teaches that you must NOT add an "S" to Jesus or Moses when making either of them possessive. In that same topic, no one out there seems to know that we need to say, "We are having the Reynoldses for lunch," or "We saw the Collinses at Wal-Mart." Many, many missionary prayer letters have a title at the top that uses their surname which already ends in an "S" as a way of indicating all of them in a plural way ("The Hawkins to India"). [I made that one up.] It should say "The Hawkinses to India."

Thankfully, Reese just proofread this for me and caught a mistake! :-)

Victoria said...

Jamie - Lol! I already made the correction. Erin was mentioning that I had forgotten the 'a' in front of "future."
I see that with families whose names end in 's', as well and it drives me crazy! I always thought you didn't have to end "Jesus'" with another 's' until I took Dave B's UBI writing class. I guess it could go either way.

Erin - Thank you for that! I always proof-read my stuff, but that one escaped me! Which, goes to show that some of these mistakes are truly that - a mistake. But, when people CONSTANTLY make them, it's more ignorance.
I never knew you were an editor, of sorts. No wonder you and I get along so well! ;) That IS the problem with blogs - people don't take their writing seriously on them. Very sad.

Thank you, both, for your input on these posts!

Kathy said...

OK Vicki, I never do this kind of thing but I saw your blog and I have to agree with Jamie about adding an "s" after Jesus...I was actually taught not to do this in a college English course via a little handbook by E.B. White called "Elements of Style". Funny, when I hear someone say "Jesus's" it feels like they are running their fingernails on a chalkboard haha!! Guess your reaction depends on what you've been taught! :-)