Thursday, October 20, 2016

Possessive or Plural?

This piece has been a long time in the making. You can't imagine how many years...it's finally here.
I'm really trying very hard and have been for years but I still cannot "accept" the increasing misuse, and even abuse in some cases, of the apostrophe. (BTW, I corrected my boss a few years ago). 

When I was being taught about punctuations decades ago and I'm sure the same still applies today, we were told that apostrophes could be used to indicate possessives or plurals. Remember? Ok, this picture clarifies the rules.

It's sad to notice that more and more people use apostrophes when they want to pluralize an acronym e.g. Key Performance Indicators is shortened as KPI's - the correct pluralized acronym is KPIs. I know that if you type it directly in Word, it changes the prior letters to lower case. However that is not a good enough reason not to write things correctly - at least until those in Microsoft figure out how we can minimize the abuse/misuse of the apostrophe.

Let's try one more example and I'll add what each word or contraction means:

It's vs. Its: "It's" is the contraction of "It is" - just like "I'm" is a contraction of "I am" not "Am" as I see people writing these days. You ask someone "How are you?" and the response is "Am fine"  - which is wrong/bad English. The correct thing is "I'm (or I am) fine" (and always nice to add "thank you and you?"). Ok before I go too far off topic let me reel myself in. "Its", on the other hand, is the possessive form of "It" e.g. "The church announced its Community Engagement Program."

The other place where you see the misuse of the apostrophe is with names that end with "s" e.g. Agnes. If you want to say that something belongs to Agnes you wouldn't or shouldn't write "It's Agne's purse" or "It's Agnes's purse" - the correct way is "It's Agnes' purse." If it's a name that doesn't end with "s" then the apostrophe should be before the "s" - right?


Right of course. I was thinking that I had held off on this piece for too long not know that I had a few more surprises - actually shocks to come. I got an email where the author had a phrase that said: "get to know each other’s’ preferred ...style..." Do you see what I saw? Look again. That's what happens when we get used to putting the apostrophe in the wrong place and then when it's time to add an apostrophe confusion ensues. Before you laugh and fall of your seat/sofa, you may want to quickly review some of the things you have written and purpose to use apostrophes correctly going forward. Then please join me to do what this Red Button says:  



Recommended Reading:
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp






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