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  1. #1
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    Talking Apostrophes or is it apostrophe's?

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    Our PTA printed out posters and hung them all around the school to advertise a fundraiser. There were so many errors in it, I wanted to use it for daily editing practice with my students. The biggest was the misuse of apostrophes. Every time a word ended in s, there was an apostrophe - sometimes before the s and sometimes after. There shouldn't have been any apostrophes at all.

    I KNOW I'm a grumpy grammar grinch, but apostrophe misuse is beginning to get to me. So I present a min lesson - it's the 5th grade teacher in me.

    You don't need an apostrophe if all you are doing is making something plural - more than one.

    You do need an apostrophe to show possession - ownership. If it's only one owner the apostrophe goes before the s. If it's a plural owner, the apostrophe goes after the s. The only exception to this I can think of, is the word its. This "its" is the possessive one.

    You do need an apostrophe in contractions to replace the missing letters.

    Why does this matter? It matters because writing is communication. Rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation were developed to make communication easier. Communication does not occur in the mind of the writer; it occurs in the mind of your reader.

    Yes, that is exactly what I tell my students every day!

    Veronica

    PS This post isn't intended to be hurtful or unkind, merely instructional. I still recall how I relieved I felt when I FINALLY figured the difference between then and than. Many thanks to Mrs. Woodbrey, my awesome Latin teacher, who actually took the time to explain it to me.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    Communication does not occur in the mind of the writer; it occurs in the mind of your reader.

    I love this' line!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Can't believe the PTO didn't grammar check - what a terrible example!!

    Em's only remaining apostrophe error is occasional omission when she intends a possessive. I corrected a few of those last night in her honors world history work. It'll sink in. Eventually.
    Sarah

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  4. #4
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    My question is why does my spell checker dislike "women's"..... I get it that womens is not right as women is already plural, but something can belong to a group of women..... I always see the little red dots when I want to write about "women's racing" or "women's fields"... to call them woman's seems more incorrect to me... (and so that it is not sexist it also dislikes men's)....

    (I think I just answered my own question... it should be women' to follow the pattern of not putting an 's on something that already is plural, but IMHO that's kind of stupid, because you cannot speak an '.... so in speaking to someone you would have to say the s to sound right and be clear.... apparently British English allows 's on men's and women's - I agree with the Brits)
    Last edited by Eden; 11-18-2011 at 07:42 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Examples illustrated here.

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

    I still have to mentally do "is it a contraction?" for "its" vs "it's".
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  6. #6
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    ohhhhh she disagrees with my spell checker and allows women's.... I think I'll keep using it despite being harassed by the little red dots.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  7. #7
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    Here's a local one that drives me nuts.

    Shamuss's Sandwiches

    Is that correct or not?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    Here's a local one that drives me nuts.

    Shamuss's Sandwiches

    Is that correct or not?
    That is along the lines of what I was looking at, plural possessives and pluralizing things that end in s. I think that should be Shamusses' Sandwiches..... but if you really ask me, it is somewhat arbitrary to do it that way.... It doesn't change the meaning to write Shamuss's v/s Shamusses'.
    Last edited by Eden; 11-18-2011 at 07:54 AM.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  9. #9
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    You'll see authorities on either side of that one. IIRC (and it's been a long time and I have no idea where my copy is now ), Strunk & White are [were? okay, that one I'm not looking up] in favor of it. I prefer it with the 's, myself. But I don't think there's any support for adding an "e" - I've never seen it that way.



    ETA - haha, that was hard - my brittle-paged second printing Elements of Style was right next to my neglected print Petit Larousse, and the very first rule in it is:
    Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

    Charles's friend
    Burns's poems
    the witch's malice

    Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake....
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 11-18-2011 at 08:30 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Veronica, I applaud your attempts at teaching literacy in this crazy world.
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  11. #11
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    My kids this year are just eating it up. They know the difference between independent and dependent clauses and can correctly punctuate sentences with both types of clauses. They know what an appositive is and can punctuate that. I wish I could get them to use more of these things in their own writing, but I believe that will come with time.

    I just hope it sticks.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    ohhhhh she disagrees with my spell checker and allows women's.... I think I'll keep using it despite being harassed by the little red dots.
    I find my spell checker is frequently incorrect.
    I click "ignore" a lot.
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  13. #13
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    Thank you.
    I absolutely detest the increasing number of writers who think you need to use an apostrophe any time there is a "s" at the end of a word. It doesn't surprise me that there were such mistakes on a PTA poster. As a former writing teacher, I loved teaching my kids how using appositives, dependent, and independent clauses made them better writers. When done with the intent of teaching them to be able to express themselves better, they ate up the grammar teaching, just as Veronica describes.
    It hurts my eyes to read some of the posts on TE. I know that using apostrophes incorrectly is not a sign of a personality deficiency, but... I guess I am old fashioned; I still proof my posts, even though this is not what I call "formal" writing.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7rider View Post
    I find my spell checker is frequently incorrect.
    I click "ignore" a lot.
    Can't you add it to the spell checker?
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  15. #15
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    Misplaced apostrophes and misspellings can make my eye stumble as I'm reading, but I know what the writer is trying to say. Doesn't upset me.

    I grew up in a family rolling in librarians and authors with an easy-going attitude toward that kind of stuff. If a friend or forum-buddy makes a grammar mistake but you know what they are trying to say, it doesn't matter.

    But if a publisher or professional messes up... watch out!
    Last edited by KnottedYet; 11-18-2011 at 09:26 AM.
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