Some will guess what’s coming, others won’t even recognise it, so neglected and abused has it become in the last decade.
I feel so hugely defensive and have a fierce need to protect it – there is actually a Protection Society for it with thousands of members!
It’s only tiny, but such a clever little thing. Sometimes it sits toward the back, and sometimes right at the back, as it doesn’t demand too much attention, and makes no noise at all. In fact it’s so quiet that people have started to ignore it completely – with devastating consequences!
Mostly it helps us out with two important things: it can help us with ownership, or possession. The other thing is it reminds us that something’s missing.
What the blazes am I talking about? A yapping chihuahua? A 21st century memory chip?
Nay! The subject of my passion is apostrophe apostasy!
What really gets me is why so many people get it wrong when they very nearly get it right! Most of us know that an apostrophe is needed when we are talking about possession, eg: Laura’s shoes. And again, we mostly get it right when we know there’s a missing letter – see what I just did – the apostrophe in “there’s” actually replaces the letter “i” in the phrase “there is”.
But over and over again I am seeing it’s when it should be its, and its when it should be it’s – but why when the same rules apply? The word “it’s” represents “it is” – simples!
Let’s (or let us) go back to Laura’s shoes. Suppose you wanted to say “the heels of Laura’s shoes”. You can say it more briefly by using the apostrophe: “Laura’s shoes’ heels”.
Hold on, you say – what’s that apostrophe doing hiding round the back?
Actually, it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be. Because we are talking about more than one shoe, whether two or a thousand shoes, we’ve added an “s” for plural. But the apostrophe for possession still has to appear – so it quietly attaches itself to the end of the word. Clear? I hope so!
If you learn nothing else from my little rant today, please just take away this one thing: the apostrophe is NEVER EVER used to denote plurals! Even if it appears to clarify your message, for example MOTs or DVDs – no, no, no! It’s just WRONG to add an apostrophe!