The Apostrophe Catastrophe

The apostrophe is everywhere lately — literally. I’ve complained before about its incorrect usage, and I’m certainly not alone.

In yesterday’s Post, Robert Fulford writes about the misunderstood apostrophe, and he describes vigilante editors who take it upon themselves to make corrections to all the signs with the added apostrophes: Cd’s, Record’s, Dvd’s!

The apostrophe also came up on a recent discussion board for freelancers. An editor was called out for her use of the apostrophe in a sentence similar to the following: “I hope things go well at your parents’, and I hope you get good news at the solicitor’s.” But her critic was wrong. These apostrophes are correct because she’s referring to the parents’ house and to the solicitor’s office.

This blog needs a shot of colour, so here’s a spring photo with an accompanying sentence with as many correct apostrophes and plurals as I could manage.

Flowers 001Flowers 002

My neighbours’ property has a beautiful tree. The tree’s beautiful colour is my heart’s joy. My neighbours know I like the tree, and they have offered me one of the tree’s clippings. But I declined my neighbours’ offer. The tree, the tree’s leaves and flowers, and the leaves and flowers’ heartwarming colour should remain undisturbed by the likes of me.

(Note that in the last sentence above, leaves and flowers share a possession: colour. When this is the case, the apostrophe is used with only the second possessor.)


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Filed under apostrophe s, punctuation, signage

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