Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Grammar Gaffes: That Insinuating Apostrophe S

I have seen a lot of grammatical errors in my time, but none chaps my hide more than the misplaced apostrophe S. You know the one. It pops up out of nowhere (supposedly) to indicate the plural, but all it really indicates is the writer's unfamiliarity with the plural versus possessive form. (And don't get me started with plural possessives.) I see it a lot this time of year on Christmas cards than come in the mail; that apostrophe S insinuates itself where it's not wanted:

Merry Christmas! Love, the Brown's
Have a great 2013, the Smith's
We fell asleep in English class, the Shafer's


I am certain you all know this, but just for the sake of my sanity, bear with me whilst I expostulate:

Apostrophe S indicates possession. Ownership of something.

Joe's coat
Leslie's book
Ellen's hissy fit

To indicate the plural form of a noun, simply add an S.

the Browns
the Smiths
the Shafers

Then there's also the sticky situation of what-if-my-last-name-ends-with-an-s? (Or an x for that matter.) How do I make that plural?

Easy peasy. Add an -ES.

the Davises
the Lennoxes
the Simmonses

Yes, I do know that things get trickier when one needs to indicate the plural possessive. But that is not the object of this post. I'll get to that later.

One fit at a time, please.


  1. Thank's Ellen! (Hee Hee. Ducking.)

  2. An excellent post - but you knew I'd say that!

  3. Don't get me started on its/it's, to/too/two, and they're/their. Just lazy writing IMO. (And, yes, I meant to do that!)


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