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Use of the Apostrophe

There is much confusion about the proper use of the apostrophe. There is even a movement to get rid of it in some countries. The apostrophe is correctly used to show possession, as part of a contraction to replace missing letters, and to pluralize in odd cases such as pluralizing a lower case letter. An example of this pluralization would be, p's rather than ps, use here seems to be more for clarity. It is not used to create plurals of nouns, nor to indicate a decade such as the 1960s (inaccurate version 1960's).
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Here are some examples of common misuse and the correct usage:

  • pluralization - dog's (incorrect) dogs (correct)
  • possession - to indicate the toy of an individual dog use - my dog's toy OR for multiple dogs toys - use my dogs' toys (for words ending in "s" to show possession add the apostrophe AFTER the "s".

There are many more examples of confusion when using this punctuation mark. Hopefully the examples here will help clear up some of the common errors.

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

I am so glad you posted this, R. Barbara. Thank you! I'm finding misuse is increasing, perhaps due to sheer laziness or perhaps, more accurately, we "can't be bothered" while texting. Correct spellings as well as punctuation remain the hallmark of educated individuals (in addition to those of us who lean toward compulsiveness).

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Anonymous
March 1, 20170 found this helpful

I think probably the most common mistake is confusion with its and it's, since it's is not a possessive.

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Anonymous
March 2, 20170 found this helpful

You've hit on one of my biggest peeves. Not just apostrophes but all grammar mistakes. What happened to the period? i see more and more people not bothering to use a period - makes a sentence hard to read. And no one seems to proofread what they write. And not just in writing but in spoken words.

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And here's my pet peeve. Starting a sentence with "I mean". That indicates that you're clarifying a previous statement. but what if there was no previous statement? (Now you're going to hear it all over the place, hoo.) Thank you, Barbara, for your post and an opportunity for me to spout off just a little bit.

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March 2, 20170 found this helpful

This brings back memories of long ago school days. I remember my teacher have a full course on this very subject and I may sometimes misuse it but I try to think about it before placing it on paper.
Thanks for reminding us.

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