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.
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.