Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Apostrophe: It’s Not Just for Decoration

It seems to me that people tend to toss apostrophes around as though these punctuation marks were intended solely for decorative purposes. I recently came across a sentence that read, “Do publishers and author’s really feel that.…” Why on earth would the writer make publishers plural (correctly) but throw in an unneeded apostrophe to make that second noun—author—both singular and possessive? Is there some convoluted logic in these instances, or do people have no idea what an apostrophe is used for?

Of course—and perhaps this is what confuses people—the apostrophe has many purposes other than making words possessive. It’s used in contractions as a replacement for letters (such as “it’s” for “it is”). It’s also used to guide us in correctly reading “minding our p’s and q’s.”

But these uses are fairly straightforward and don’t really seem to be an adequate reason for just tossing an apostrophe into a word when it has no purpose.

What about you? Have you seen instances recently of misused apostrophes? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Carolynn-- I really enjoyed reading your blog. I don't understand all the technical terms for all parts of grammar (I think that the trend when I was in school must have been to teach children to use it correctly, not to know what it is they're using.), but I really found your treatment of the common problems entertaining!

    By the way, I'm in Linore's class; you left a comment on my blog, just in case you didn't remember. :)