- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Misused Apostrophe is NO Longer Your BFF
The apostrophe is the most misplaced, abused, overworked, overused, misused, punctuation mark in the history of punctuation marks. It is no longer uncommon to see an apostrophe misused anywhere. Just look around you. My most recent example was just the other night as I was watching the weather forecast on the local news station when I noticed the forecast for the following day described as ‘Lot’s of sunshine ‘.
Just what is our fascination with the apostrophe that we have made it our BFF (best friend forever)? Figuratively speaking, I could literally hear the apostrophe scream, “I’m tired! Enough is enough! I am no longer your BFF! Leave me alone!”
There was no apostrophe needed in the word lots . Where is the spell and grammar check when we need it most? So what exactly is an apostrophe and when should it be used?
What is an apostrophe?
An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used in the English language primarily for 3 specific purposes:
a) To show missing or omitted numbers or letters.
Example I - the year 2012 may be written correctly using an apostrophe as ’12.
Example II – contractions. When writing a contraction, an apostrophe is necessary, i.e. cannot is can’t.
b) To show possession (whether singular or plural).
Example I – The teacher’s video will begin in 10 minutes. The word teacher is singular in this sentence making reference to only one teacher.
Example II – The teachers’ videos will begin in 10 minutes. The word teacher in this sentence is plural making reference to many teachers.
c) To show the plural of letters and numbers.
Examples I – There are two e’s in the word elephant.
Example II – The high temperature have ranged in the 90’s this week.
Give the apostrophe a rest. It doesn't mind being used. It just yearns to be used correctly. So remember, only use it for one of the three reasons stated above. If in doubt as to whether an apostrophe should or should not be used when writing, chances are the answer is not.