Monday, October 18, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Apostrophe Mishaps

Apostrophe misuse is a rampant issue. There's the common mistake often seen at grocery stores or other places of business where an apostrophe is used in a plural, such as pumpkin's are here or open Sunday's, or the other frequently seen it's versus its confusion. Let's take a look at the three common uses where apostrophes should be: to indicate possessives of nouns, to form contractions, and sometimes in time and measurement.

There's an easy trick for using apostrophes with possessives: to see if you need to use a possessive apostrophe, turn the phrase into an of the phrase. For example, the dog's food would be the food of the dog. Something like this definitely does not work with a sentence like pumpkin's are here!

With its and it's, the apostrophe creates a contraction, turning it is into it's. Without the apostrophe, its is a possessive pronoun like his or hers. A possessive its does not require an apostrophe.

The same concept of apostrophes in contractions apples to dates: to shorten writing the year 1978, you can use '78. A plural of a shortened decade only requires one apostrophe though, like, the '70s.

For further apostrophe guidelines, check out The Chicago Manual of Style. For some apostrophe misuse laughs (or lessons?), check out Apostrophe Abuse.

1 comment:

  1. Misuse of apostrophes - by other people- is one of my pet peeves. But with text messaging - do people event know what an apostrophe is anymore?