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By apostropheman - 8 July 2005 17

That’s it! I’ve had it with you people! The headline “Of tattoo’s and Motorcycle gangs in Canberra” [sic] is the last freaking straw.

It’s time you clowns learnt how to use an apostrophe.

Rule 1 – plurals do not need an apostrophe. Thus “tattoo’s” should be “tattoos”. This applies across the board, even if you are using acronyms – eg: “MPs” not “MP’s”. Plurals that need to indicate possession will be dealt with later.

Rule 2 – “It’s” with an apostrophe is a contraction of “it is” – in this instance the apostrophe does not indicate possession, eg: “it’s raining today”. If you want to indicate possession then use “its” without an apostrophe, eg: “the Government has lost its head on IR reforms.”

Rule 3 – singular possession is indicated by an apostrophe before an s. Eg: Johnboy’s Blog, Canberra’s heart, Stanhope’s sense of humour etc. If the owner ends in an “s” then you have a choice:
a) you can just put an apostrophe after the s, eg: “Dean Jones’ bat”; or
b) you can put an apostrophe and an s, eg: “Dean Jones’s bat”.
There is debate as to which is correct – I was brought up with option a)

Rule 4 – if the owner has a double s, then you add an apostrophe and an s, eg: “Ross’s Relics in Yass is full of over-priced crap”.

Rule 5 – plural possession is indicated by an apostrophe after the s, eg: “the Raiders’ unconvincing win over Penrith”.

It’s really very simple and far from being pedantry incorrect apostrophe use can significantly change the meaning of whatever it is that is being expressed.

Please feel free to flame me at your leisure – it will only serve to reinforce my smugness at understanding the basics of grammar.

What’s Your opinion?

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bronson 1:00 pm 11 Jul 05

For what is worth, your and you’re are two different words. Thanks

LurkerGal 10:56 am 11 Jul 05

Ralph, I went through school under the same govt as you. I was taught punctuation and spelling and grammar!

LurkerGal 10:55 am 11 Jul 05

I think I am in love with you, apostropheman.

Chris 9:27 am 11 Jul 05

I thank my stars I was the (last0 generation of newspaper cadets who were bullied into correct style and grammar by a tyrannical English-import typesetter. Holding his fag end between his thumb and forefinger he’d chant “i before e except after c, remember that, Girlie’ and other useful sayings I’ve since forgotten (but that one has been useful).

Ari 9:18 am 11 Jul 05

Hey Ralph,

“Of late I have also been dabbling with colons.”

You’re not a mate of Patrick Carr’s are you?

Vic Bitterman 6:36 pm 10 Jul 05

apostropheman, if you were not a man, you would be a suitable candidate for being my wife.

I’m sure my present wife would not mind! 🙂

seepi 6:29 pm 10 Jul 05

it is funny though – if people just never used an apostrophe they would be right more often. But they seem keen to get it right, so they bung in apostrophes before every s.
It just needs a catchy phrase so people can remember. (like i before e except after c) We were told the apostrophe equals ‘own’. So bob’s house = Bob’s own house.

johnboy 7:05 pm 09 Jul 05

strict grammar and spelling was a temporary artefact of the age of moveable type.

in a generation or two all we’ll be left with is fashion.

Which is a shame I’ll grant because strict grammar reduced ambiguity.

But people are just to dumb anyway, even if you right completely clearly, chances are they’ll misinterpret it.

OK, I’ll grant you that the better you write the better your chances are.

Ralph 5:41 pm 09 Jul 05


Or even worse:


Jane Hansard 5:26 pm 09 Jul 05

You are right except that you haven’t allowed for how to pluralise acronyms ending in S: RSS’s NOT RSSs.
Did you know that the apostrophes you hate have been called ‘greengrocers’ apostrophes’? That’s because you see apple’s, banana’s etc so often on fruit shop signs.

Ralph 4:59 pm 09 Jul 05

Don’t blame me, blame the Hawke Government.

My generation was not taught how to use punctuation. Albeit some private schools (in their wisdom) probably ignored the silly social experiment at the time. It was thought that teaching children to write creatively was more important than bogging them down in the correct use of punctuation.

I went to a private high school, and sailed right through in the top english classes. However, whenever I asked how to use punctuation correctly, the answer was always: ‘You should’ve been taught that in primary school’.

If you look at my posts, you will see I am trigger happy with commas and hyphens. Of late I have also been dabbling with colons.

bloodnut 12:36 pm 09 Jul 05

Its a sad state of affair’s when someones day is overcome by society’s (and Riot ACTs) improper use of apostrophe’s.

Me thinks that this sort of behaviour is a slippery slope that ends in days spent writing to the telegraph full of abject concern over the state of todays youth, and nights spent horrified by ACA shysters.

Beware apostrophe man – now your secret is out, i know of at least one spiteful person who would abuse innocent apostrophe’s on purpose, happy in the knowledge theyve replaced the ”’smugness at understanding the basics of grammar”’with a fit of misplaced and illogical rage.

til next time friend’s

RandomGit 11:07 am 09 Jul 05

Bob’s Qucik Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots should be compulsory school material.

Spitfire3 9:30 am 09 Jul 05

I support you wholeheartedly in your crusade, apostropheman! It really shits me when I read a sentence and don’t understand it the first time because of incorrect punctuation.

terubo 6:11 am 09 Jul 05

It’s a losing battle, apostrophe’man. They’re everywhere, springing up in all sort’s of places’.

panda 10:56 pm 08 Jul 05

Oh cmo’n. Your just jealous.

Kerces 10:02 pm 08 Jul 05

A man after my own heart (sigh).

Methinks they’re just taking after the Canberra Times who have been sprinkling apostrophes willy nilly in the past few weeks.


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