Grammar PSA: The Actual Use of an Apostrophe

Hello internet people!

This is just to say that I’ve been noticing something upsetting on the good old internet (and in real life) lately that I feel must be addressed. People seem to have entirely forgotten what an apostrophe is actually for.

This is similar to one of my favorite parts of the internet, the “suspicious quotation marks” phenomenon, wherein people put quotation marks around things to draw attention to them, not understanding how hilarious that can make things. Except that, for some reason, the apostrophe thing annoys me more. Maybe because I see it happening to people I know all over Facebook and the rest of the internet, whereas I like to pretend suspicious quotation marks are only perpetrated by people who own Chinese restaurants and don’t understand the English language.

Anyway, here’s the thing: apostrophes do not, in fact, make things plural. They really don’t. Saying “I saw seven kitten’s” is simply saying something that doesn’t make sense. You saw seven kitten’s what? Socks?Bowls? Because, you see, an apostrophe makes things POSSESSIVE when used in this fashion. Not plural. You’re actually giving yourself extra work, pressing that key on your laptop/tablet/smartphone when you don’t need to and in fact shouldn’t.

The other use of an apostrophe is, of course, to make a contraction. Which is the fancy word for things like “don’t” and “won’t” and even “shouldn’t” wherein two words are combined and shortened into an easier form. The apostrophe represents the missing letters. It serves a purpose and is supposed to be here.

So please, people. Keep apostrophes out of your plurals. Otherwise, the world will be a confusingly unfinished business. Also, you will kind of look like an idiot to anyone who knows anything about grammar.

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2 thoughts on “Grammar PSA: The Actual Use of an Apostrophe

  1. This makes some sense… But how do you know if the apostrophe goes in front of the “s” or after? Please tell me!! 🙂

  2. As far as I ever learned, the apostrophe goes after the “s” when you're using a plural form of a word. So, those girls' hats, in reference to two or more girls. Where as that girl's hat refers to one girl.

    With words that already end in s, the same principal applies. So, for instance, the Oaks' picnic. But a grammar website I checked mentions it's preferable (but not required) in that case to add a second “s” for clarity, making it Oaks's.

    Hope that helps 🙂

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