Watch those apostrophes
My daughter is a secondary teacher of many years of experience. She sometimes calls herself “The Apostrophe Nazi” and is horrified by the abuse this poor little item of punctuation suffers. She has been known to openly correct the misuse of apostrophes on staff room notice boards, newsletters and other items on public display. She has been sorely tempted to carry a pen with her and correct the abuse of this form of punctuation in public places such as shops.
Imagine her horror a few days ago when I pointed out more errors on a public notice. We were on holidays in the Sydney and went for a day trip to the Blue Mountains. We were buying an afternoon tea treat in a small bakery. I was looking at the public notices in the window. On one of them – only a short notice mind you and I forget the intent of the notice – there were no less than six abuses of the use of the apostrophe.
Aaaaah! Her brain had trouble coping. She didn’t snap – but came close to it.
For further reading on this topic click here.
Writing Hint #5 Use apostrophes correctly
My daughters an English teacher in one of our state high school’s.
She emphatically claim’s to be an “apostrophe nazi.”
She goes around the staff room, office and staff office’s correcting the misuse of apostrophe’s in other people’s poster’s, notices and anything pinned up on the notice boards.
I’m thinking of never going shopping with her again – just in case she decides to go around correcting poster’s and advertising hoardings. That would be most embarrassing.
I recently came across this following hint regarding the use of apostrophes:
Use the possessive apostrophe in it’s place and omit it when its not needed.
One cant be too careful.
I hope my daughter never read’s this or she might find a few mistakes. At least she cant access this blog in order to correct it’s mistakes.
Oh dear – Ive just realised that she could leave comments about this post. Ooops.
I invite you to comment on the above text.
Can you find all the errors?
I think I have made 14 errors. But… I could be wrong!
Using the apostrophe
If anything gets my family riled up, it has to be the misuse of the humble apostrophe.
My daughter, an English teacher, calls herself “The Apostrophe Nazi”. She delights in correcting errors wherever and whenever. My son even uses an apostrophe to abbreviate his name – Simon has become Sim’. It also annoys me when I see this poorly understood form of punctuation abused.
Imagine my horror, then, in reading this sentence in an email from a bookshop recently:
“Xxxx Booksellers would like to thank its’ regular and new clients for their support.”
That is a shocker!
I should be fair though; the humble apostrophe is probably the most misunderstood and misused form of punctuation in our language. Furthermore, the meaning of the sentence is still quite clear, so I’ll just let it rest. I make mistakes too – plenty of them.
- Use apostrophes correctly – an amusing article with many comments from my family.
- Writing hints – a list of writing hints from my archives.
- Apostrophes – the Wikipedia article on how to use them correctly.
Writing Hint #44: Edit, edit, edit
Over recent days I have highlighted the different stages of writing:
Step 1: Plan
Step 2: Write
Step 3: Rewrite
Step 4: Edit
The editing stage is often overlooked by inexperienced writers. This is a crucial stage in the writing process. In the editing stage you need to go back over every word in the piece of writing; it doesn’t matter if it’s a fifty word filler paragraph or a five hundred thousand word novel.
Check for these things:
- Check Spelling: spelling mistakes are avoidable; check – don’t assume it’s right.
- Use the correct homophones: get to know the difference between know and no, right, rite and write, to, too and two. There are dozens more.
- Use the right word: make sure you are using the right word for the context. For example, “She gave the allusion that she was very intelligent.” The correct word should be “illusion.”
- Punctuation: make sure it is all there – and that it is used correctly. Study the classic authors and how they use punctuation for effect.
- Check your typing: no matter how carefully you type, errors will creeep in – see what I mean? Get someone else to check for typos. And watch out for words that have been missed out. (I actually found one after I published this article.)
- Check your use of apostrophes: mastering these is crucial. If you don’t, the Apostrophe Police will come knocking at your door, headed by my daughter.
- Cut out all unnecessary words: ideally, this is done in the rewriting stage. Avoid padding just to reach the word count. (I just cut out four unnecessary words from that last sentence.)
- Grammar: use correct grammar. This is too big a topic for this short article.
- Writing hints – more hints about writing.
- How to be a more productive writer or blogger – includes a list of strategies
- Short story starters – another article in this popular series I have written
- Write first drafts quickly
- Five rules for effective writing
- Read every day.
- Write every day.
- Take time for yourself every day.
I have compiled a list of useful writing hints.
Below is a list of the topics.
To access each hint, just click on the title.
- Proof read your writing
- Avoid repetition
- Prepositions and Conjunctions
- Don’t waffle
- Use apostrophes correctly
- Use words correctly
- The power of punctuation
- The problem of using cliches
- Write what you love
- Use these writing prompts
- Write, rite or right
- More about metaphors
- Eight steps to getting published
- Keeping fit
- Write every day
- Practice every day
- Get rid of clutter
- Check your spelling
- Strategies to keep you writing
- Take a nap
- Overcoming writer’s block
- Keep a word count
- Set a minimum target each day
- Use your memories
- Try free writing
- Unplug from the internet
- Make a list
- Write a character sketch
- Change your writing environment
- Write first drafts quickly
- Schedule your writing day
- Let your characters loose
- Write with music
- Take a break
- Take up a hobby
- Use a dictionary
- Plan, plan, plan
- Write, write, write
- Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite – until you get it right
- Edit, edit, edit
- [coming soon]
- [coming soon]
For even more articles go to the Writing Hints category on the sidebar or click here.
Page updated in August 2015.