It is well known by all in my circles that I am a fan of correct grammar and punctuation. Quite frankly, I think it makes the world a better place. I find it comforting and pleasant to read advertisements, blogs, and articles that are clean and free from the unintentional clutter of the misplaced or misused squiggles and dashes that help us navigate written communication.
One of the most abused punctuation marks has to be the apostrophe. Oh, that this comma held aloft would be given the attention it deserves instead of being relegated to such a menial task as making a word plural. This it never does! I repeat, this it never does.
The noble apostrophe has only 2 valid reasons for existence: contraction and possession.
A contraction is the joining of 2 words into a smaller word.
will + not = won’t
Possession indicates that something belongs to someone.
This is my brother’s house.
When something is owned by more than one person, the apostrophe is placed after the plural word. If I have 2 brothers and they share a house, the sentence becomes
This is my brothers’ house.
An apostrophe isn’t meant to decorate last names or to make a word plural.
The Smiths (simply a name by which our family is identified)
Welcome to the Smiths’ (the home that belongs to all of us with that last name )
Wednesdays (something happening on more than one Wednesday)
Wednesday’s (something belongs to Wednesday, like Wednesday’s paycheck)
May we all join in a commitment to set the English-speaking world aright by striving to correctly place the tiniest of marks, which, in turn, will bind us together in harmony, leaving a legacy of clear and correct punctuation for the grateful generations that will follow. This is my fervent desire.
Former high school French and English teacher Jenni Butz facilitates and educates as MC or keynote speaker for groups of dozens or hundreds. Jenni employs her dynamic energy and honed communication skills as a speaker at retreats and corporate training events, helping individuals practice good communication for better understanding. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Effective Communication. See more at Wordspark.com
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