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Apoplectic about Apostrophes

Updated on August 4, 2013

Apoplectic about Apostrophes

Misspelling bothers me.

When I see stationary (meaning standing still or not moving) instead of stationery (writing paper), principal (the school administrator or highest in rank/importance) rather than principle (a basic truth, law or assumption), or the misspelled cemetary instead of cemetery, I see red.

But I’m almost apoplectic about apostrophes.

What is it about pluralizing a word that muddles brains and causes people to throw apostrophes around like fertilizer on a lawn?

Today I saw an ad for fairies (don’t ask) which read fairy’s. From the context of the sentence I knew they were talking about more than one fairy, so they should have used the plural form fairies. But rather than deferring to the primary school grammar rule about changing the y to I and adding es, someone decided to pluralize it by throwing an apostrophe between the y and s.

The way it was written, fairy’s, turned it into the possessive form of the word, meaning what should have followed was an item owned by a fairy … perchance pixie dust?

O to be a Grammar Fairy capable of sprinkling pixie dust on all misspelling and grammar no-nos. For errant or missing apostrophes, I’d reserve a special colour – neon red.

Since I’m bereft of pixie dust, a rhyme may help to clarify some grammatical confusion:

Simple plurals

When turning singular into plural

There’s no need for brows to furl

Simply add s more times than not

And remember these rules that I was taught

If a word ends in y, change the y to i and add es

Unless a vowel precedes y, in which case all you add is s

Examples of both are fairy to fairies

And toy to toys, and tray to trays.

There are a few peculiarities

With words whose endings sound like hiss

After sh, s, x, ss and ch you add es

As with brushes, kisses, boxes, glasses, churches

Then there are words that end with o

Somewhat irregular, I know

For potato and tomato, you add es

But for piano and casino, you only add s

For words that end with a vowel before o

Like stereo and studio

A simple s will do

Some tricker plurals

Words ending with f can be tricky

As the rules are a little sticky

Leaf becomes leaves and wife, wives

Yet proof changes to proofs and cliff to cliffs.

Enough about plurals as it’s the apostrophe

That nearly sent me into apoplexy

I bid you attend to this one last bit

The difference between its and it’s

To know whether it’s is correctly used

Change it’s to it is and if the meaning is removed

Then take away the apostrophe

It’s quite easy, don’t you see?

Since examples are helpful here is one:

It’s so hot that the snake shed its skin to cool down

The first it’s could be it is but its means the skin is the snake’s own.

Although more could be said about the apostrophe

For today here ends this homily.


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    • LauraLearns profile image

      LauraLearns 4 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, The Examiner-1. By the way, I made up the plural poem, but perhaps others have made up similar poems, using some of the same words. Thanks again for reading my hub!

    • profile image

      The Examiner-1 4 years ago

      I liked your Hub and agree with it completely. I remember most or part of that 'plural poem' from somewhere. I handle my contractions by not using them anymore.